Honk if you love lighthouses

  • Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 9:23 a.m., Updated: Monday, April 15, 2013 9:25 a.m.

Folks in the Lowcountry know what it is to love a lighthouse. Think about the Morris Island Lighthouse and the $5 million worth of work that has been done to stabilize its foundation.

Folks in the United Kingdom would probably empathize. They aren’t losing a beloved lighthouse, but they are losing something dear to their hearts — lighthouse foghorns.

The silencing of the mysterious-sounding warning that signaled ships about dangers in their paths for a century and a half is so poignant that a composer and some artists are memorializing it. The Foghorn Requiem will be performed in June.

According to The Guardian, the musicians will be on an armada of boats playing their ships’ horns, as well as three brass bands on shore and, of course, the foghorn — this one at Souter Lighthouse.

It will be performed live only once on the North Sea coast, on June 22.

Artists Lise Augena and Joshua Portway and composer Orlando Gough hope to present a “final farewell to a sound, and to the people and way of life it represents.” The last of the lighthouse foghorns are being decommissioned, with GPS and other technology taking their place.

The foghorn that will star in the requiem is known for its 120-decibel sound. Indeed, it was so loud that lighthouse staff received extra “noise money” for enduring it.

But coordinating it with ships and bands is no small feat. Computers will control the horns on some boats to compensate for the time delay in sound traveling as far as several miles.

Fortunately, the next chapter in the Morris Island Lighthouse’s story isn’t one of saying goodbye. It will be one of new life this spring when bids will be taken to restore the ironwork, the tower windows and the glass of the lighthouse lantern, as well as to refurbish and paint the works.

After that is done and preservation efforts are completed, perhaps a composer here will be inspired.

Maybe it could be called the Resurrection Symphony.

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