HERD is a ground-breaking project devised by composer Orlando Gough and produced by leading arts production company Artichoke as part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023.

This vast, multi-layered, musical odyssey and exhibition – 18 months in the making – is a unique collaboration between artists and local people. It traces the cultural and industrial story of Kirklees, through its many musical traditions, past, present and future.

From July 11-16, a series of original soundscapes will echo across Kirklees, punctuated by the music of hundreds of local musicians, from:

  • brass bands
  • boliyaan
  • choral
  • gospel
  • beatboxing
  • carnatic singing
  • school choirs, and much more.

The soundscapes were commissioned from local artists and then mixed together by Orlando Gough and sound designers Sebastian Frost and John Del’Nero with the recorded performances by the choirs, bands, and soloists involved in HERD

HERD begins with a single giant mother sheep (Aina), broadcasting her soundscape into the distance. Over six days, 23 larger-than-life sheep sculptures of various sizes will appear across Kirklees, each singing their own individual soundscape.

As the week progresses, the sheep will move from more rural locations into the towns, their sounds reflecting a more urban and industrial reality as they go.

Look out for appearances in Batley, Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Mirfield, Slaithwaite, and elsewhere. The HERD will finally arrive in St George’s Square, Huddersfield, on Sunday July 16 for an epic sonic spectacle, that will bring together all the hundreds of musical contributors for a stunning concluding performance of five specially-commissioned future songs for Kirklees.

Why sheep? The history of Kirklees is rooted in the textile industry. Wool and water brought succeeding generations to work in the mills, bringing with them their own unique musical traditions.

HERD weaves a captivating tale of movement and sound, industry and labour, and pays homage to the profound influence of the wool trade on the rich tapestry of Yorkshire and its people.

More on the sheep:

The musical sheep sculptures are designed and created by Huddersfield-based artist Dave Young, in collaboration with heritage craft practitioners.

Ranging in size from one metre to four metres high, they are made from a variety of materials including textiles, willow and salvaged and recycled junk. They will be wired for sound by Sebastian Frost and John Del’Nero, experts in sound design. 

The sheep sculptures all have their own unique sound and character and are each named after the ancient sheep-counting song, Yan Tan Tethera, which is derived from the Celtic Brythonic language. The sheep names in alphabetical order are:

Aina, Bumfitt, Covero, Dix, Eddero, Fethera, Giggit, Hant, Ix, Jiggit, Kindra, Ludd, Methera, Nant, Odra, Pethera, Qethera, Ranadik, Sesan, Tethera, Umphit, Vedero, Wix.

Yan Yan Tethera and Schools

Some 900 local schoolchildren have been involved in helping to design and decorate Kindra, one of the 23 sheep.

As part of the schools’ programme for HERD, primary school pupils have been taking part in workshops to learn the words and music to Yan Tan Tethera. They will perform the song to Kindra as she tours Kirklees schools during the week that HERD takes place.

HERD has spread its woollen web wide amongst local youth across Kirklees. Rap artist Donovan Christopher (Debo) has worked with groups of schoolchildren and young people to create two spoken word pieces that will form part of the soundscape for Jiggit, the youth sheep.

Sing & Sew is another strand aimed at young people, with creative workshops focused on the cultural and industrial heritage of Kirklees, working in partnership with Woven and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Artist and Musicians

HERD is an extraordinary collaboration between artists and musicians and the local community, working with Orlando Gough and Artichoke and developed over 18 months.

Seven sound artists were commissioned to create soundscapes, which were then mixed together by Orlando Gough, Sebastian Frost and John Del’Nero with the recorded performances by the choirs, bands and soloists involved in HERD.

Sound artists taking part include Chris Ruffoni, Jaydev Mistry, Jo Kennedy, Yorkshire Sound Women Network, Monty Adkins, Rob Crisp, HOOT, Sunil Kalyan, and Sam Hodgson, the host and researcher of Kirklees Year of Music’s oral history podcast TOWNSOUNDs.

It features Ruby Wood (of Submotion Orchestra), Thabo Mkwananzi, Bryony Griffith and Alice Jones, Supriya Nagarajan, Donovan Christopher (Debo), Huddersfield Choral Society, Huddersfield Community Gospel Choir, Shepley Singers, Hade Edge Brass Band, Skelmanthorpe Brass Band, school choirs and many more…

HERD Grand Finale

On Sunday July 16, the whole herd of 23 sheep will gather in St George’s Square, Huddersfield, for a spectacular immersive day of sound and music. Open to the public from midday, everyone is invited to go and see the sheep installed in the square and listen to them broadcast their soundscapes to the world and each other.

HERD will conclude with a grand finale event at 5pm, choreographed by Charlie Morrisey. Five specially-commissioned “future songs”, will be performed by the hundreds from the Kirklees community, including primary and secondary schoolchildren, who have contributed to this epic event, with special appearances by Seyed Mohammedreza Beladi, Jaydev Mistry, Bryony Griffith and Alice Jones.

The songs have been composed by local musicians including: Rob Bradley, Noah Burton, Martin Chung, Thabo Mkwananzi, Ruby Wood, Supriya Nagajaran, Sunil Kaliyan and Testament. Future song 5 is composed by Orlando Gough.