Macclesfield Schoolchildren Compose Joy Division Symphony

Today, May 18, marks the 30th anniversary of the suicide of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis. It was a Sunday morning the night before they were to embark on their first US tour when he hung himself . Many events are taking place around the world to signify that anniversary– and Curtis’s name has even been a trending topic on Twitter in the UK for most of the day. But an unexpected tribute is taking place in Curtis’s hometown of Macclesfield, England. The BBC reports that schoolchildren in Macclesfield are composing a Joy Division symphony.

According to the BBC, the Northern Chamber Orchestra is working with students from two local schools to compose a symphony based on three Joy Division songs. Orchestra education coordinator Helen Quayle tells the BBC, “The style of music is quite sparse and very simple. The kids can understand and take elements of that and write for a string quartet using the same technique.”

The symphony is only one of the many Curtis-celebrating events going down in Macclesfield. There will also be an exhibit, curated by writer Jon Savage, featuring posters, setlists, and letters from Curtis, including one where he calls the Joy Division masterpiece Closer “a disaster”. It’ll run July 29 to August 7 at the 1813 Sunday School Heritage Centre. Tourists will also be able to buy a map, which will feature locations like the house where Curtis hanged himself.

Festival director Richard de Peyer tells the BBC, “Macclesfield has never had the opportunity to celebrate Ian Curtis’s work in a way which benefits the communities of the town and also attracts music fans from far and wide. This summer seemed like the right moment to do that.” (based on a story from Pitchfork)