Samuel Hertz

Case study
Talking about
DARE Art Prize

Samuel Hertz, composer and performer, is the recipient of the first-ever DARE Art Prize.

Launched to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the DARE partnership between Opera North and the University of Leeds, the DARE Art Prize is aimed at challenging artists and scientists to work together on new approaches to the creative process. US-born, Berlin-based Samuel impressed the jury with his proposal for an electro-acoustic chamber piece for infrasound – low frequency sound below the level of human hearing.

The early stages of Samuel’s process included a two-day workshop in Opera North’s Howard Assembly Room, where he made recordings with mezzo-soprano Helen Évora and bass Whitaker Mills, four subwoofer speakers, and a tapping machine – a percussive device used by acoustic engineers to determine how spaces react to noise. The two singers, who are members of the Chorus of Opera North, performed a libretto written by Samuel, which he describes as “a dialogue between human bodies and ecologies."

In the meantime Samuel is working with two academics at the University of Leeds, Dr Freya Bailes, Academic Fellow in Music Psychology, and Dr Luke Windsor, Professor of Music Psychology, on ways of assessing the effect of infrasound, and on programming a series of talks and performances in association with CAVE (Centre for Audio Visual Experimentation) at the University.

I'm consistently engaging in wonderful dialogues with creative researchers, artists, and engineers, and this project has so far proven to be incredibly fruitful in my imaginings of spaces of low-frequency sound and planetary sonics.

Samuel Hertz, inaugural DARE Art Prize winner

Samuel’s investigations into the potential of low frequency sound continued with a site-specific piece for the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, which received its premiere in late 2017. A Shadow Feeling used the powerful sound system in the Museum’s IMAX cinema to produce resonances elsewhere in the building, with additional sounds played quietly in these areas to produce a 'duet' with the building itself.

Throughout February, Samuel was Artist in Residence at The Tetley, where he staged a series of interactive workshops, open rehearsals and collaborations.