Harris Live: Oraison • Visit Preston
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Preston Guild City

Harris Live: Oraison

Date Wednesday 02 October 2019
Time 7:00pm - 9:30pm
Location Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Market Square, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2PP
Cost £8.00
Website www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/harris-live-oraison-tickets-64224763998

Harris Live: Oraison

Join the Harris for this unique concert...

Oraison offers an opportunity for a rare encounter with the ondes Martenot—an extraordinarily versatile electronic musical instrument with a sound quite unlike anything else.

The concert will feature a selection of classical and contemporary pieces played on piano and ondes Martenot, centred around Olivier Messiaen’s Oraison—a transfixing instrumental meditation on time, transience, and entrance into the eternal. With the exceptional acoustics of the Harris Museum’s vaulted atrium, this is sure to be an experience that will appeal to all music-lovers—a chance for immersion in the waves of the ondes Martenot, which, while being made of wood, metal and circuit-boards, astonishes in the human extent of its subtlety and range.

First showcased in 1928, the instrument was invented by Maurice Martenot, a French cellist who served as a radio operator in the First World War. While tapping out messages, he became fascinated by the musical potential of the valve-based radios he was using and before long was performing ‘songs’ for his fellow soldiers (to mixed response). In the years after the war, Martenot worked to develop his idea for the instrument which underwent a series of significant evolutionary transformations before it assumed its present keyboard-like form.

While it can be played with keys like a traditional keyboard, the ondes is distinguished by a string running along the length of keyboard, which can be moved by means of a ring worn on the right index finger, and it is this which gives the instrument its distinctive voice-like range. Ethereal and otherworldly, in addition to being taken up by the avant-garde, it is one of the few electronic instruments to have been adopted by classical musicians, as well as featuring in contemporary rock and pop music and a number of film soundtracks such as Lawrence of Arabia, Ghostbusters, There Will be Blood and The Revenant.

Between renditions, Josh will be talking about the origins and the mechanism of the ondes, throwing light on this unearthly instrument and the manifold inspirations for its music, making this an event not to be missed. Along with Josh on the ondes, Joshua Gidney will feature on piano.

Josh Semans

Josh Semans is a multi-instrumentalist and composer whose fascination with the ondes runs deep. Applying himself to learn all he could about the instrument long before he ever played one, he is rooted in the small but growing community of ondistes. Currently engaged in a number of musical projects and initiatives, Josh is working in collaboration with musicians and other artists, visual and literary, composing soundtracks for film and television, and working on material for albums of original music, as well as being involved in the continuing evolution of the instrument itself. Keen to share his enthusiasm for the ondes, Josh is devoted to making the instrument more accessible—to musicians wanting to use the instrument in their work, and to non- musicians simply wanting to experience its distinct sound. Knowing how rare and unreachable the instrument has been up to now, Josh wants to do all he can to bring the ondes out into the world, to share its sound and kindle a passion for the instrument in others.

Event times

  • Doors open: 7pm
  • Start: 7:30pm 
  • Finish: 9:30pm

There will be a 15 minute interval with a bar accepting both cash and cards.


Please note that this is a seated show. This is a step-free venue with an accessible toilet. If you need more access information or space for a wheelchair, please contact the Harris before the event.


Tickets are available online or from the Harris Shop.

To buy tickets online visit Eventbrite - Harris Live:Oraison.

Map address for the Harris

Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Market Square, Preston, PR1 2PP.