HERD: Uniting Communities Through Music and Spectacle in a Week-Long Sheep-Filled Extravaganza

  • 15,000-strong audience for final day of HERD   
  • 350 community singers & musicians
  • 900 schoolchildren and one ancient sheep counting song
  •  23 singing sheep across Kirklees
  • 7 sound artists
  • 21 soundscapes
  •  5 future songs

15,000 people packed into St George’s Square this past Sunday 16 July for the final day of HERD, while thousands more encountered the musical sheep sculptures broadcasting soundscapes across Kirklees during the preceding week.

HERD, a large-scale sonic art project orchestrated by composer Orlando Gough and produced by arts production company Artichoke, as part of Kirklees Year of Music 2023, delivered an awe-inspiring finale to the week-long odyssey that has seen 23 musical sheep sculptures broadcasting soundscapes across the Kirklees district. 

This epic event culminated in Huddersfield's St George's Square this past Sunday 16 July as thousands gathered for an immersive day of sound and music, featuring professional local musicians and soloists from a variety of musical genres and around 350 community musicians. Positioned around the square and loaded with speakers, the sheep sculptures effectively created a surround-sound environment that the audience could hear from wherever they stood.  

With special appearances by Seyed Mohammedreza Beladi, Jaydev Mistry, Bryony Griffiths and Alice Jones, with Rob Bradley, Noah Burton, Martin Chung, Thabo Mkwananzi, Ruby Wood, Supriya Nagajaran, Sunil Kaliyan and Testament and performances from gospel, choral, and school choirs, to beatboxing and tabla, Carnatic singing, brass bands, Bhangra and Boliyaan, the grand finale featured five specially commissioned “future songs” for Kirklees, composed by local musicians and Orlando Gough.

18 months in the making, HERD has forged deep connections within the community, participants and passers-by alike. The monumental work intertwined the industrial and cultural narratives of Kirklees and paid homage to its rich musical heritage and its historical ties to the textiles industry. At the heart of the project, the 23 handcrafted musical sheep sculptures, wove together tales of movement, sound, industry, and labour, symbolising the enduring significance of the wool trade for Yorkshire and its people.

Throughout the week, passers-by across Kirklees had stumbled upon the sheep broadcasting original soundscapes into the landscape, leading them on an epic sonic journey around Kirklees’ rich musical culture. The diverse range of soundscapes were commissioned from local sound artists, and expertly mixed by Orlando Gough and sound designers Sebastian Frost and John Del’Nero. They drew together found sounds from Kirklees past and present, with recordings of the musical performances. 

Helen Marriage, CEO/Artistic Director of Artichoke said:
Sunday’s event was the culmination of a truly epic journey to tell the story of an extraordinarily rich and diverse local musical culture and showcase the beautiful landscape and towns of Kirklees. We quickly realised that sheep had a central part to play in this story, having driven the wool trade and enticed people from all over the world into the area over the centuries. From the team of local makers who worked with fabricators Dave Young and Jane Gaffikin to realise the sheep sculptures, to the wonderful sound artists, soloists and musicians who worked with local community choirs, bands and schoolchildren to make this project happen, HERD is a brilliant example of hugely talented professional artists and musicians working together with people from the local community to create something truly extraordinary.”

Orlando Gough, composer and creator of HERD said:
I always like to make work that encompasses all kinds of different types of music and make connections between musicians who don’t normally work together. HERD was my dream commission. It was an honour to be able to work with so many great musicians from different cultures, all local to the area, and to have them working together in exciting ways. And we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful participation of all the local community singers, school choirs and brass bands. Thanks also to Charlie Morrissey for his directorial support and wonderful choreography and of course to Kirklees Year of Music for the opportunity. It’s the most ambitious project I’ve ever worked on and I’m so grateful to everyone who took part.”

Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of the council said:
It’s not often that sheep surprise people, but HERD has amazed, amused, and entertained people from across Kirklees and beyond. The project has brought together our diverse musical communities, put smiles on children’s faces and shown the world a glimpse of our fantastic local towns and villages. It’s just one of many fantastic events as part of Kirklees Year of Music, and I hope everyone will take time to check out what else is coming up.

Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said:
“It was wonderful to see communities come together for the unique HERD finale this weekend. Culture doesn’t just enrich our lives - it drives growth and creates opportunities for people throughout our region to thrive. I was happy to support this initiative, and the wider Kirklees Year of Music celebrations, which are helping us to build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire.”


Sarah Maxfield, Area Director North at Arts Council England said:

It was great to see – and hear! – the fantastic talent of local artists, singers and musicians in Huddersfield on Sunday. This was the culmination of 18 months of activity bringing together people and communities across the borough, rooted in the distinctive character of Kirklees and celebrating its diverse and thriving music scene.  We were so pleased to support the HERD project and the 2023 Year of Music in Kirklees – one of the Arts Council’s Priority Places.


Helen Featherstone, Director England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
We are absolutely delighted to have supported Sing & Sew as part of HERD, a fantastic project that celebrated the important cultural and industrial heritage of Kirklees by working with local young people, and contributing to an amazing year of activity. We know heritage can play a huge role in instilling pride in communities, and this project is a wonderful example of how that can be done.”


Further information about HERD

The Sheep

HERD began 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 started to appear across Kirklees, each fitted with a speaker and singing their own individual soundscape. As the week progressed, the sheep moved from more rural locations into the towns, their sounds reflecting a more urban and industrial reality as they went. 


The musical sheep sculptures were designed and created by Huddersfield-based artist Dave Young, in collaboration with a team of heritage craft practitioners. Ranging in size from 1 – 4.5 metres high, they were made from a variety of materials including textiles, willow, salvaged and recycled junk, and all named after the ancient sheep-counting song, Yan Tan Tethera.


Yan Tan Tethera and Schools

900 local schoolchildren were involved in helping to design and decorate Kindra, one of the 23 sheep, and more than 100 primary school pupils took part in workshops to learn the words and music to Yan Tan Tetherawhich they sang at the Sunday finale event. 

The Artists 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 that took 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. Featuring Ruby Wood (of Submotion Orchestra), Thabo Mkwananzi, Bryony Griffiths 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. 



Notes to Editors
For more information about HERD and the Kirklees Year of Music, please visit the official website at https://herd-kirklees.co.uk/about/ or contact info@kirkleesyearofmusic.co.uk.

For further press information please contact Herd@Kallaway.com

HERD is supported by:
Kirklees Council
Arts Council England
West Yorkshire Combined Authority
National Lottery Heritage Fund
Canal & River Trust
One Community Foundation
Leonard Curtis


About Orlando Gough
Orlando Gough is a composer (and sometimes lyricist, librettist, music director, MC, recording engineer, cookery writer), who writes operas, choral music, music-theatre, music for dance and theatre, and creates large-scale site-specific work.

About Artichoke
Founded in 2005, Artichoke is one of the UK’s leading creative companies and a registered charity and is part of Art Council England’s National Portfolio. The company’s aim is to work with artists to create unique, large-scale experiences that appeal to the widest possible audience and to use art to disrupt the everyday to create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in. They believe the arts should not take place behind the closed doors of theatres, concert halls or galleries. Instead, they work in the street, public squares, along the coast and in the countryside across the UK, bringing communities together through learning and participation work leaving a legacy of skills and new-found potential behind.

Artichoke.uk.com | @artichoketrust | https://herd-kirklees.co.uk/


About Kirklees Year of Music 2023 (KYOM23)
Kirklees Year of Music in 2023, is a unique, place-based, cultural change programme initiated and led by Kirklees Council, part of the wider cultural offer in the region of West Yorkshire over the coming three years.  2023 is designated as a Year of Music for the district and, through investment in the district’s diverse music talent, communities and businesses, the year-long programme of events and projects, will strengthen the music ecology of Kirklees from its roots. 2023 will celebrate the richness and diversity of Kirklees music heritage, the music created and performed today, and the ambition for the future, inclusive of all music genres, all communities and in all forms. 

Kirklees is a place where everyone can hear world class music through festivals and programming; where children and young people have access to high quality musical experiences and education; and where the next generation of musicians and music professionals can build and sustain a high-quality career, with access to the very best industry advice, career opportunities and performance routes.

@musicinkirklees | #kirkleesyearofmusic | #YearOfMusic2023 | #kyom23 | https://www.musicinkirklees.co.uk/

Arts Council England

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. From 2023 to 2026 we will invest over £440 million of public money from Government and an estimated £93 million from The National Lottery each year to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk.  

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies responsible for administering the Government’s unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund of which we delivered over £1 billion to the sector in grants and loans. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19.

About The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we Inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. www.heritagefund.org.uk

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund.

Since The National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised over £43 billion for projects and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across the UK. More than £30 million raised each week goes to good causes across the UK.