Pleasure Garden

In Pleasure Garden, music and environmental sounds weave through a landscape.


Image: Genevieve Lacey, with graphic design by Stephen Goddard.

Elegant audio design transforms a garden into a place of musical play, of repose and delight. Pleasure Garden is a listening garden – a gently interactive instrument. It responds to the movement of passers by – different layers of the composition are triggered by their presence, and move subtly across the garden as visitors explore, or sit awhile and listen.

Inspired by the story and music of the seventeenth-century musician, composer, improviser and nobleman Jacob van Eyck, Pleasure Garden combines excerpts from his work, set within newly composed music by Genevieve Lacey and Jan Bang, in collaboration with Jim Atkins, Robin Fox, Pete Brundle, Sera Davies and Stephen Goddard.

Jacob van Eyck’s mid-seventeenth-century Der Fluyten Lust-hof (The Flute’s Pleasure Garden) is a recorder player’s treasure trove. A compendium of seventeenth-century European popular song, Der Fluyten Lust-hof is the largest surviving collection of solo woodwind music from any age, and comprises a series of transcriptions of van Eyck’s improvisations on popular sacred and secular tunes from across the Continent. Most of the melodies would have been familiar favourites at the time, while others were newly fashionable pop hits.

Van Eyck, a blind carillonneur, hailed as ‘the Orpheus of Utrecht’, was employed by the city of Utrecht chiefly as a carillonist, but was famously given a pay rise to wander through Janskerkhof public gardens in the evenings, to entertain passers by on ‘his little flute’. The lusthof, or pleasure garden, was a domesticated version of Arcadia, a public site for recreation, courtship and listening.

Our Pleasure Garden was created in this spirit. Combining verbatim excerpts of van Eyck’s work, set within a delicate contemporary electroacoustic work, Pleasure Garden resonates and plays across time and space.

Pleasure Garden was created thanks to support from the ARC Centre for the History of Emotions (Europe 1100‒1800), Australia Council for the Arts, ABC Classics, Sydney Festival, Sydney Living Museums, Four Winds and Lambley Garden.

Download the CD Project book

Pleasure Garden website

ABC Music Pleasure Garden CD




Associated Event

Pleasure Garden, Vaucluse House, Sydney, 7–26 January 2016.