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LISTEN TO: Musician in residence, Joe Kirby

In November 2023, pianist Joe Kirby spent a long weekend at Watergate Bay as our musician in residence, taking inspiration – and recorded sounds – from the beach and the hotel. He improvised and composed original work while stayed, and then worked his ideas into an arrangement that he performed in The Living Space on the Sunday evening.

You can listen to Joe’s finished composition here:

As a winter storm brewed, Joe began his process by recording sounds from around the Bay, and adding them to a device called a fader controller.

This allowed him to blend them with the piano as he began composing – in the ocean room, The Living Space and his beach loft.

“The piece is as much sound as it is music,” Joe says. “They work in harmony. I make sure I give enough space to both.”

Pay attention as you listen and you should hear the sounds that caught Joe’s ear. His favourites were the gully of rainwater running down to the beach, and the sound of the surf. You may also hear the general buzz from around the hotel – people chatting and the clinking of plates.

But Joe’s outdoor experience wasn’t just about foraging for sounds. He also had a surf lesson. The two hours spent in the rolling sea invigorated his creative brain, he told us – and inspired the music even further.

Joe recalls “the rhythm of the ocean, bobbing up and down in a repetitive way”. This is mirrored in his composition, where patterns of notes repeat at regularly spaced intervals, just like the waves.

Joe played live in The Living Space every day, his improvisations soundtracking the space. As guests and visitors shared meals and stories, he let the different musical ideas, patterns and motifs take shape.

And when the weekend drew to a close, Joe took his memories of the sea and surf back home, and set about arranging the final composition “Winter waves”.

“When I got home, I listened back, and all the little ideas I’d composed and recorded in the communal areas of the hotel fell into one track,” he says.

Have a listen. And hear where the music takes you…

Joe Kirby sitting at his piano

Meet: Joe Kirby

From BBC1 to London’s legendary Abbey Road Studios, find out more about Joe Kirby’s musical career and approach in our introductory blog post.

Meet Joe

Could you be our next artist in residence?

We're always on the lookout for our next artist in residence, to find out more and how to apply follow the link.

Artist in residence programme

Watergate Jethro Jackson 00826 (1) (1)

Discover more artists in residence 

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