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Voices from Chernobyl

The World’s Worst Nuclear Disaster

At Rewire 2020, Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir will present an extended spatial performance of her score for the hit TV miniseries ‘Chernobyl’ at the Electriciteitsfabriek, a working power station in the centre of the Hague. Read about the context for the series and the making of the award-winning score below.

On 26 April 1986, the worst nuclear accident in human history occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Pripyat, Ukraine. A catastrophic explosion blew the lid off the No 4 reactor, causing a fire that took around 10 days and 250 firefighters to extinguish. There were 31 fatalities as an immediate result of the explosion, and more than 200 cases of severe radiation sickness in the days that followed. The accident caused the largest uncontrolled radioactive release into the environment ever recorded, a dark legacy that is still being felt today.

The Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries ‘Chernobyl’, written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck, dramatised the events of the accident and the cover-up that followed. The series featured the plant workers and brave people sent in to contain the accident, as well as the scientists who rallied to expose the truth of the disaster, and the Pripyat locals who experienced the devastating effects firsthand. The series ended its run in the summer as one of the highest audience-ranked television series in history – at the time of writing it’s received almost 400,000 votes on IMDB – with critics citing it as one of the best TV shows of 2019.

Read de Volkskrant’s review. Read the Guardian’s review.

The book, ‘Voices from Chernobyl’, by the Belarusian Nobel Laureate Svetlana Alexievich served as key source material for the HBO miniseries. A journalist living in Minsk at the time of the disaster, Alexievich spent 10 years interviewing more than 500 eyewitnesses, including firefighters, liquidators (members of the cleanup team), politicians, physicians, physicists, and ordinary citizens, whose voices make up this haunting oral history of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Read an extract from ‘Voices from Chernobyl’.

To see Hildur Guðnadóttir presents: Chernobyl featuring Chris Watson & Sam Slater at Rewire 2020, purchase your tickets here: show will feature processed recordings captured from Ignalina, the decommissioned power plant in Lithuania where the HBO series was filmed, together with live vocal orchestrations from Guðnadóttir and lighting design by Theresa Baumgartner.

Watch Guðnadóttir discuss the making of her ‘Chernobyl’ soundtrack:


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