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North East music project becomes viral hit around the globe

  • Date: 8 November 2012
  • Area: North

Anton Hecht, a Newcastle-based video artist has seen his latest piece, Bus Station Sonata, garner global attention in the last two weeks – from Japan and the USA to Spain and Germany. Funded by Arts Council England’s open access funding programme Grants for the arts, Anton talks about the success of the project so far, and what it’s meant to him.  


VIDEO: Anton Hecht's Grants for the arts project 

Video artist Anton Hecht made Bus Station Sonata in Newcastle’s Haymarket bus station in August (see video above). Shot in one day, the film shows musician Andy Jackson playing one hand of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on a baby grande piano, with members of the public volunteering to play the other, simpler hand, under Andy’s instruction. The resulting piece is a music video which in just two weeks has been broadcast, blogged, tweeted and liked all around the world.

Below Anton shares his thoughts on the ideas and funding behind the work and the response it’s received.

Q&A with Anton Hecht 

How has it felt to get such a response to the artwork?

‘It’s been a bit of a shock! It’s exciting to feel that you have made something that is part of culture on a large scale, and that the work you have made is making an impact around the world.

‘The coverage the project has got is brilliant, but the comments people have sent me are the most touching and encouraging: a Pastor from Virginia contacted me asking if he could use the piece in his sermon. Sometimes people can appear jaded by the arts, but the enthusiasm this piece has been met with definitely proves otherwise.’

What was your inspiration behind the project?

‘In the film Blazing Saddles a cowboy is riding in the desert to a rousing orchestral soundtrack – then he rides past the actual orchestra playing the tune in the desert. This made me think about the power of seeing music produced in unusual places. Then one grey day, I was at the Haymarket bus station in Newcastle, and I thought this is the place.

‘The idea was to get people involved in the playing process: to take something difficult and break it down to a point anyone could join in with it. Though it was only as we started to make it I realised how music making is something anyone can be excited about, regardless of their experience.’

How has the Arts Council’s Grants for the arts scheme supported the work?

‘It’s been a huge support and would wholeheartedly recommend it to other artists. The process of applying for a grant is straightforward, and what’s great is that by doing this it allows you to develop your idea, and to explore working with different partners to bring into the process – in my case this was FACT Liverpool and Nexus Travel.

‘The funding I received made it possible to realise my vision, and the knowledge of the staff I spoke with, and the guidance given to me was really useful. I would say to any artist with a good idea, start talking to Arts Council England, and start making connections.’

Further information

Anton Hecht
web, Twitter

Arts Council England, North East

Bus Station Sonata was funded through Arts Council England's open access funding programme Grants for the arts. For more information about the scheme click here