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GUY RAZ, host:

This year's winner of Britain's big contemporary art award, the Turner Prize, is nothing to look at. That's because it's a sound installation.


Susan Philipsz won the prize and the equivalent of $40,000 for her rendition of a Scottish lament. It's called "Lowlands Away."

(Soundbite of song, "Lowlands Away")

Unidentified Women: (Singing) Lowlands, lowlands away, my John.

BLOCK: In Susan Philipsz' installation, this haunting song echoed from beneath three bridges in Glasgow, Scotland.

RAZ: The song speaks of a lover, drowned, who returns all dressed in white to her sweetheart.

(Soundbite of song, "Lowlands Away")

Unidentified Women: (Singing) Lowlands away. I heard them say my lowlands away.

BLOCK: Philipsz was born in Glasgow. She's also a sculptor. At last night's awards ceremony she said she doesn't think of herself as a sound artist.

Ms. SUSAN PHILIPSZ (Artist): I work with sound in a kind of sculptural way. Almost see it as a sound sculpture, if you like. I think it was interesting, really interesting to have "Lowlands" under the bridges over the Clyde with the sound of the trains trundling overhead and the sound of the water. It was all part of the experience.

(Soundbite of song, "Lowlands")

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) In the windy lowlands, my lowlands away.

RAZ: The Turner Prize is awarded each year to a British artist under 50. Philipsz is 45. This is the first time a sound installation has won the prize.

BLOCK: And if you want to hear more of the prize-winning recording from Susan Philipsz, you'll find it at

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