The Thermal Properties of Concrete

Steven Naylor

The Thermal Properties of Concrete has been performed in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Halifax and Montréal…

The Thermal Properties of Concrete is an intensely personal work, and yet it has almost nothing to do with me. I conceived it, I made it, and I chose to present it, but it invokes a world that I have never experienced, and never wish to. It is not a political work, nor is it a social commentary; it is simply my response as an artist to what I see. I am indebted to three people whose voices populate the piece: Jody Stevens, who performs the fictitious narrator-character at the centre of the work; and two senior staff members of the Planning Department of the City of Halifax (NS, Canada). The latter two chose not to be identified by name, but their thoughtful comments shed light on the complexity of making the urban built environment a place suitable for all residents, including those without an address. Clearly, I also owe a debt of inspiration to the late Glenn Gould, whose polyphonic radio pieces, beginning with The Idea of North in 1967, helped redefine “the idea of music” for many Canadian listeners, myself included.


The Thermal Properties of Concrete was realized in 2006 in the Electroacoustic Music Studios of the University of Birmingham (UK) and the composer’s studio in Nova Scotia (Canada), and premiered on March 4, 2007 during the Invisible Art concert series produced by BEAST at the CBSO Centre (Birmingham, UK). The work was selected for presentation in Phonurgia Nova in Arles, France (2007) and ISCM World New Music Days/Aurora Festival in Sydney, Australia (2010), and has also been performed several times in Canada. The composer acknowledges financial support from the Nova Scotia Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) during the creation of this work.


  • March 4, 2007, Invisible Art — Concert 5, CBSO Centre, Birmingham (England, UK)


8-channel fixed medium



Date Work Program
October 1, 2013 Steven Naylor, The Thermal Properties of Concrete (2006), 27:03 Radio Horizon 93.9 FM (South Africa)
August 1, 2014 Steven Naylor, The Thermal Properties of Concrete (2006), 27:03 Radio Horizon 93.9 FM (South Africa)