Friday, June 25, 2010

Post-Gazette Writeup of North Side Spaces

Sunday's music event got some great press in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, hopefully it will get some interested folks to hear it! Many thanks to Diana for interviewing me and coming to hear the brass quintet rehearse.
There's also a video of the quintet, check it out!

Musicians to add notes to North Side tour sites
Friday, June 25, 2010

If Lake Elizabeth were music, what might it sound like?

A free tour Sunday of four North Side places will offer Nathan Hall's interpretation of what each site would be if it were a piece of music.

The tour, from 3 to 4 p.m., begins at the New Hazlett Theater and is open to the public.

A different group of musicians will play at each of the sites -- the New Hazlett, the Children's Museum, Allegheny Commons Park and the Mattress Factory -- while tourists move from one to the next.

Mr. Hall had vied for a Charm Bracelet microgrant to present this musical itinerary "outside the composition box."

"I saw the opportunity to tie all these sites together" through music and "make it interactive. Usually, the audience is removed from the musicians, but this will bring them up close and personal."

The tour venues are among those in a "Charm Bracelet" of cultural sites on the North Side; Charm Bracelet became a brand in 2007.

"It is a network of cultural, educational and recreational organizations [collaborating on] projects that come together outside our walls and through the neighborhood to foster an attractive North Side," said Chris Siefert, deputy director of the Children's Museum.

The Grable Foundation granted the bulk of funding for this round of seven Charm Bracelet microgrants. The $6,700 grant pays the 20 musicians and for technical support.

The next round of funding will be announced in the fall for small projects that are art- and design-oriented, said Mr. Siefert. The grants of $500 to $10,000 will be funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Mr. Siefert called Music of North Side Spaces "an original idea that touched on a few different layers. It really excited reviewers in our stakeholder group, mostly for its interpretation, making the streets lively. These are what we call everyday space, places people encounter by walking around or getting off a bus."

Last Sunday, amid kayak rentals and bouncing dogs, a brass quintet assembled beside Lake Elizabeth in Allegheny Commons Park to rehearse. The group began at the Civil War Memorial and paraded across a bridge onto the lake's island, each horn making punctuations of sound, both abstract and plaintive. Trumpeter Josh Boudreau popped down into the water and stood, calf deep, as the others stood near the water as it lapped over a slope of Belgian blocks.

"Each composition is based on the architecture and the history of the site," said Mr. Hall, 27, who works as the office manager at the Mattress Factory and has a master's degree in music composition from Carnegie Mellon University. "The inspiration at Lake Elizabeth is that there used to be a music pavilion."

At the New Hazlett, seven musicians -- vocalists and percussionists -- will present a piece inspired by the fact that the building shares space with what was Andrew Carnegie's second oldest library. The percussionists will be playing typewriters.

At the Children's Museum, three glockenspiels, singers and a bass guitar will provide music inspired by the science exhibits that once were at the Buhl Planetarium on the same site.

A flutist and soprano saxophonist will play along the walkway leading toward the lake. To signify the proximity to the National Aviary, the duo will play music adapted from a 19th-century transcription of bird song.

"When the flute plays at a certain register, birds are responsive," said Mr. Hall.

A string quartet, singers and improvisors at the Mattress Factory will present a work inspired by a piece John Cage performed at the art museum in 1990.

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