Make a noise for the Foghorn Requiem

Boats of all types and sizes are being called on to set sail for South Tyneside to take part in a unique project created in celebration of the foghorn.

Used for centuries to guide ships away from the rocks, foghorns across the country are gradually being decommissioned as vessels rely increasingly on satellite navigation systems.

Now, a specially-composed Foghorn Requiem is to be performed at Souter Lighthouse at South Shields on June 22, with the backing of three North East brass bands and the ships horns of a flotilla of vessels positioned off-shore.

The Foghorn Requiem is unique as it is not only the first musical score created for foghorns but it will also use pioneering technology to conduct and control ships horns from afar.

Vessels at sea will sound their horns to a musical score that will take into account climatic conditions, the landscape and distance from the shore.

The event will be the highlight of a month-long Festival of the North East held to celebrate and raise awareness of the social and cultural heritage of the region and organisers are calling for regional, national and international boats of all sizes, ages and types to participate.

Participants do not need to have a loud ship horn as the organisers will supply specialist equipment for the day and, ideally, organisers would like those participating to be anchored off the coast at South Shields by 21 June.

Alternatively, vessels are welcome to take part in a sail-by on the day of the event, providing the organisers have been informed and all ships crews will be invited for a land-based celebration after the event.

Foghorn Requiem is a project by artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, commissioned by South Tyneside Council and the National Trust – which took over the running of Souter Lighthouse following its decommissioning in 1988 – and the musical score has been written by celebrated British composer Orlando Gough.

The project has secured funding from Arts Council England, Danish Arts Council and the Festival of the North East and vessels from maritime organisations including the RNLI, Port of Tyne, Port of Sunderland, Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, Ocean Youth Trust North, Svitzer Marine and the North East Maritime Trust are among those already taking part.

Project originator Lise Autogena said: ‘We’re really excited to have so many sectors of the maritime community taking part and it would be great to hear from even more.

‘Whether you’re the skipper of a large commercial vessel, a small pleasure craft or a spectacular tall ship we’d love you to come along and you can be sure of a great welcome.’

Opened in 1871, Souter was the first lighthouse in the world designed and built to be powered by electricity, with its foghorn kept in working condition by a dedicated team of local volunteers.

For more information about the Foghorn Requiem or to take part call 07738 953116,
email, or visit

For more details about the Festival of the North-East visit

(pictures show Souter Lighthouse photographed by Adrian Don and some of the participating vessels)