Getting a little water in your ears
The Electronic Music Foundation’s really big shoo, “Ear to the Earth 2010 — The 5th New York Festival of Sound, Music, and Ecology“, will be running from October 27th through November 1st. This year the theme is “Water and the World”, and features a veritable pantheon of composers, performers and sound artists. A bit from their press release:
Water is essential to the support of all living organisms. Yet, we are headed to a crisis in managing it. For its fifth installment, Ear to the Earth 2010 will turn its attention to the current states of water and our social and cultural attitudes towards it. For five days eco-composers and sound artists will explore the topic of “Water and the World” through compositions, installations and presentations featuring the sound of water and bringing forth critical environmental issues — melting ice and rising sea levels, access and privatization, pollution, storm intensity, salinity, to name a few. The festival will take place at Frederick Loewe Theater, Greenwich House Music School, White Box, and Kleio Projects in New York City.
It all kicks off with a rare New York appearance by probably the dean of Canadian composers, acoustic ecology pioneer R. Murray Schafer (Oct. 27). Highlights include a presentation on how animals (including fish) taught us how to dance by bioacoustician Bernie Krause (Oct. 29); Kristin Norderval’s new vocal electronic work on a virtual polar icecap meltdown (Oct. 30); Michael Fahres’ video concert of dolphin sounds and Senegalese master drummers (Oct. 31); Phill Niblock and Katherine Liberovskaya’s live audio/video work on the sounds of the Rhine and Danube rivers (Oct. 31); Charles Lindsay and David Rothenberg’s new live performance work on water in western United States (Nov. 1); Andrea Polli and TJ Martinez’s documentary on surfing as a way to reflect on climate change (Nov. 1); as well as performances and presentations by Matthew Burtner and Scott Deal, Yolande Harris, David Monacchi, Maggi Payne, and Matt Rogalsky.
On Oct. 30, New York Soundscapes – an evening of premieres offering panoramic portrayals of the metropolis’s audio personality and urban ecology – will feature a team of up-and-coming sound artists focusing on NYC water-related issues such as consumption (Miguel Frasconi), the Gowanus Canal (Aleksei Stevens), and the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (Paula Matthusen). In addition, this year’s festival will present Daniella Topol and Sheila Callaghan’s highly entertaining, yet disturbing, theatrical work on struggles around water, and sound installations by Annea Lockwood, Liz Phillips and Jennifer Stock.
Everything you need to know about schedules, venues and tickets is here at the EMF website. Read on for some personal words from a few of the particpants:
Annea Lockwood: This is the first showing of the sound installation, ‘A Sound Map of the Housatonic River (2008 – 2010). I am fascinated by the multi- layered complexity of the sounds created by fast flowing rivers and have been exploring them for many years. An aural scan is a different experience from a visual scan – more intimate , I find. The energy flow of a river can be sensed very directly through the sounds created by the friction between current and riverbanks, current and riverbed. So this is a sonic map tracing the 150 mile course of the Housatonic River, from the sources in the Berkshire mountains to the river’s mouth at Milford, Long Island Sound. I recorded both at the surface and underwater, not from boats but along the riverbanks at many sites, thus mirroring the changing river-created environment. A large wall map and time display enable listeners to identify which part of the river they are hearing. The installation was commissioned by the Housatonic River Museum, a project in development in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
David Rothenberg: The piece, now called The Electrosense of Paddlefish, is a live music performance with video accompaniment, video capture by Charles Lindsay with editing by Chen Serfaty. Together Charles and I have developed a live performance piece where he plays Moog guitar, electric cello, and samples of water-based sounds recorded in Yellowstone National Park, Mono Lake, California, and other Western locations. I play clarinets and Haken Continuum, using sounds derived as well from water. A spoken text presents highlights of the hundred year struggle to control the water in the west and take it where it doesn’t want to be, featuring remarks from the mad dam builders Floyd Dominy and William Mulholland, and the true story of the marvelous electrosense of the paddlefish, a kind of prehistoric freshwater whale that eats only water fleas. After this debut performance we intend to tour the work in the American West at film and music festivals, museums and concert halls.
Miguel Frasconi: INSIDE/OUT, A Water Meditation — Because of NYC’s unique geographical location, approximately 95% of the city’s total water supply is delivered by the use of gravity. Our drinking water, in effect, “falls” from 19 reservoirs and three lakes, channelled through hundreds of miles of aqueducts, then piped into two, soon three, tunnels that then feed our water consumption. This elaborate system is the basis for the compositional process involved in my work for glass and water, “INSIDE/OUT.” At the most elemental level, my glass instruments enable sounds to be drawn from them in much the same way as our water “falls” into our faucets; elaborate constructions allow for effortless transference. Other metaphorical strata will also be at work. The flow of water involves time, as does the flow of sound. The geography of this water journey will find it’s simile in the physical placement of sound inside the White Box performance space. This all adds up to a meditation on an elaborate system that enables us to effortlessly consume a substance to which the majority of the world’s population has increasingly little access.