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This spring, Coventry is set to celebrate one of its most influential daughters in a huge event taking place at the Cathedral on Friday 5 May. “Deliaphonic” will commemorate the life and achievements of electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, best known for her work on the original Doctor Who theme tune.
Special guests will include “Grandfather of Synth” Dr Peter Zinovieff, another key figure in the development of electronic music, who has composed a brand new piece for the event. During her lifetime, Zinovieff often worked with Derbyshire at the Electronic Music Studio, where they collaborated with the likes of Pink Floyd and ELO. Coventry musician Pete Kember (aka Sonic Boom), who was the last artist to work with Derbyshire before her death in 2001, will also be appearing, along with Hannah Peel and Howlround.
In addition to live sets, those attending will have the chance to enjoy a screening of the 1972 film Circle of Light, which features a Delia Derbyshire soundtrack. The screening has been organised by Jonny Trunk, who will be DJing alongside The Specials founder member Jerry Dammers, playing a range of ambient and electronic “Library Music” including tracks by Derbyshire.
Organised by The Tin Music & Arts and Synthcurious and supported by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund, this exciting event follows the recent naming of a new street in the city after Delia Derbyshire, in a long overdue move to raise local awareness of the artist's groundbreaking work. Thanks to the HLF support, The Tin will be able to leave a legacy from the event, and the local music venue is currently calling for anyone in the city with photographs, information or documentation about her life and work to come forward.
Laura McMillan, Manager of the Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “We are thrilled that Coventry will be commemorating the life and work of Delia Derbyshire in this way – she is yet another undervalued and underrated individual from the city that has gone on to be seen as an innovator in her field. The bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021 is helping to showcase some of the wonderful talent and underground artists that have emerged from the city over the years and that hasn’t always, necessarily, been given the spotlight it deserves. It promises to be a fantastic event that celebrates a pioneer of electronic music and a standard bearer for the genre.”
Throughout the day, the Coventry Music Museum in Ball Hill will be running themed events, including workshop in which local schoolchildren will be invited to recreate some of Derbyshire's sounds and design artwork for a record. The museum will also be launching “The Delian Way” - a free, full-colour tourist trail highlighting various landmarks relating to her life in Coventry. Pete Chambers BEM, who runs the Coventry Music Museum, will be in conversation with Pete Kember at the museum at 12 noon on Saturday 6 May.
Sarah Morgan of The Tin said: “This is a real chance to celebrate Delia Derbyshire’s contribution to music and her life in the city. We really would like anyone with information, photos or any other form of documentation on her life in Coventry to come forward to help us build a better picture of her time here.”
Deliaphonic will take place on Friday 5 May, with tickets for the event available to book now from thetinmusicandarts.org.uk/events/deliaphonic. Those wishing to share information or documents concerning Delia Derbyshire’s life in Coventry should email email@example.com.