2018’s Sonic Innovations

Sonic Innovations


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For further information: Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group
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Two New Sound Art Installations Join Two Existing Works in Sonic Innovations During Caramoor’s 73rd Summer Season (June 16–July 29)

June 19, 2018

This summer, Caramoor continues its commitment to the unique world of sound art. Sonic Innovations returns to the 90 acres of Westchester’s bucolic cultural mecca for a second season, with an eye toward establishing a permanent collection of outdoor sound art. Once again under the curatorship of Chicago-based sound artist and former Merce Cunningham sound engineer Stephan Moore, this season’s exhibition includes two new works: Nafasi Yako Ni Ya Kijani (Your Place is Green) by Walter Kitundu, commissioned by the Montalvo Arts Center in 2017, and woven by air by Paula Matthusen, commissioned by Caramoor. Stone Song, created by Ranjit Bhatnagar for Caramoor’s 2014 In the Garden of Sonic Delights, will continue its residency this summer, as will Taylor Deupree’s t(ch)ime, installed last season. All four artists will also participate in a sound art panel discussion moderated by Moore on July 1, in conjunction with the performance of John Luther Adams’s monumental outdoor percussion piece Inuksuit. Sonic Innovations opens in June, and will be open to the public during Box Office hours and on concert days all summer long and into the fall. Caramoor first explored the world of sound art in 2014 when the festival commissioned a diverse array of sound artists to create works to be dispersed throughout the grounds and gardens in the innovative exhibition In the Garden of Sonic Delights. Last season, Caramoor continued that initiative with the first year of Sonic Innovations, which featured three new site-specific sound artwork commissions.

Two related pieces will also be on display this summer. Sisyphus 2.0, an interactive audio puzzle housed within a six-foot tall galvanized steel sphere sculpture that “sings” in response to movement, was first brought to Caramoor in 2014, and returns this summer for a limited engagement. Created by NYC theater company The Nerve Tank for a commission by Arts Brookfield, the work is a collaboration between designers Melanie Armer (producer of Caramoor’s 2014 In the Garden of Sonic Delights) and Chance Muehleck and composer Stephan Moore. Sisyphus 2.0 will be open for public interaction on three occasions: on the Saturdays of the Roots and Jazz Festivals (June 23 & July 21 from 1-7pm, on the lawn next to the administration building), and on the day of Inuksuit (July 1 from 1:30pm–4:00pm, Friends Field). Finally, also on the day of Inuksuit, a combination installation and performance piece will take place from 2:00pm–4:00pm in the Italian Pavilion. Titled between systems and grounds, the piece is a collaboration between Paula Matthusen and visual artist Olivia Valentine, and involves a feedback loop between live performers and electronic sounds.

Instrument builder, graphic artist and 2008 MacArthur Fellow Walter Kitundu creates kinetic sculptures and sonic installations, develops public works, and builds and performs on extraordinary musical instruments, while studying and documenting the natural world. He also has the distinction of having at one time held the title “Instrument Builder in residence” for the Kronos Quartet, after the group heard him play his phonoharp, a combination of plucked strings and a turntable. As he says of Nafasi Yako Ni Ya Kijani (Your Place is Green): “This work is a memorial. It is an installation inspired by reflection and introspection. It is an invitation to engage with loss and memory, sound, light, and time.” The physical piece consists of a handmade white oak rocking chair on a low circular deck. When in use the rocker sends very brief radio signals to the trees via a piezoelectric switch in the base. Hidden in the trees surrounding the chair are sound vessels made from old conga drums, which emit carefully composed and curated sounds contributing to the existing soundscape.

Paula Matthusen composes acoustic and electro-acoustic music in addition to her sound installations, and won the Elliott Carter Rome Prize in 2014. In addition to writing for a variety of ensembles, she collaborates with choreographers and theater companies. Her “vivid imagination” (The New York Times) sometimes results in unusual instrumentation: the New Yorker found her run-on sentence of the pavement, scored for piano, ping-pong balls, and electronics, “entrancing.” Her sound installation woven by air seeks to create an intimate and reflective listening space, blending often hidden sounds specific to Caramoor, including those of its underground infrastructure (generators, basements, storm drains), its archives, and the electromagnetic activity in the area. Utilizing the Gazebo at the end of the Cedar Walk, there will be multiple points of quiet sound emanation within the structure.

Ranjit Bhatnagar works with interactive and sound installations, with scanner photography, and with internet-based collaborative art. Recent works have been exhibited at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, the Parc d’aventures scientifiques in Belgium, Flux Factory in Queens, in the Artbots series at Eyebeam Atelier and the Pratt Institute in New York, and the Mermaid Show at the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center in Brooklyn. Stone Song, designed in collaboration with Hilary Martin, Akira Inman, and Evan Oxland, was originally hosted by the Neuberger Museum of Art of Purchase College, SUNY and was brought to Caramoor in 2015. The sculpture is laced with pressure sensors and strain gauges, as well as sensors for humidity, temperature, and barometric pressure. The gathered information feeds into a drone synthesizer, whose fundamental tones shift slowly over the months as the stones settle. A video tour of Stone Song is available here.

Taylor Deupree is an accomplished sound artist whose recordings, rich with abstract atmospherics, have appeared on numerous record labels, as well as in site-specific installations at such institutions as the ICC (Tokyo, Japan) and the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media (Yamaguchi, Japan). His music emphasizes a hybrid of natural sounds and technological mediation, and is marked by a deep attention to stillness. Deupree is also a prolific collaborator, and dedicates as much time to other people’s music as he does to his own. In 1997 he founded the record label 12k, which has released over 100 recordings by some of the most accomplished musicians and sound artists of our time. Deupree’s t(ch)ime is a site-specific sound installation that utilizes a quiet hideaway on the grounds of Caramoor to create an environment that is both familiar and otherworldly. The sole sound source of the piece is a collection of bell chimes that have been manipulated through increasing layers of digital processing as the path is traversed.

Kitundu, Matthusen, Bhatnagar, Deupree and Sisyphus 2.0 co-designer Melanie Armer will participate in a sound art panel discussion moderated by curator Stephan Moore at 1pm on July 1, as part of a special day of free events surrounding the performance of John Luther Adams’s monumental Inuksuit — called by the New Yorker’s Alex Ross “one of the most rapturous experiences of my listening life.” Scored for 9 to 99 percussionists widely dispersed in an outdoor area, Inuksuit will be performed on this occasion by 60+ musicians, led by Doug Perkins, who produced the Cantaloupe Records CD of the work and has directed numerous other performances of it around the world.


Food + Drink Offerings

On performance days during the summer, spread a blanket on the lawn, reminisce with family and friends over a glass of wine at a picnic table, or set up your own table and chairs for the day — Caramoor has plenty of space. The Food + Drink Offerings during the Summer Season feature a variety of delicious, organic, and locally-sourced snacks and beverages provided by Great Performances catering and events company. The Katchkie Food Truck offers the mouth-watering Caramoor Burger and Treble Dog, and the Tap Tent has a wide range of snacks, water, soda, local wine and beer, coffee and tea, not to mention Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Caramoor Members enjoy 10% off at the Food + Drink selections and certain events like festival days feature special menus. For maximum convenience and to avoid the lines, Great Performances also offers pre-ordered picnic boxes in a variety of menus. Additionally, on July 22 and 29, a relaxed Symphony Court dining experience with seats under a tented pavilion is offered. Each buffet menu includes unlimited wine, beer, and soda, or you are welcome to bring your own. Menus for the picnics and Symphony Court are available online, and you can either order online or call the Box Office at 914.232.1252. Order by Tuesday at 4:00pm for the upcoming week’s performance.

About Caramoor

Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre estate with Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds; tour the historic Rosen House, a stunning mansion listed on the National Register of Historic Places; unwind with a pre-concert picnic or concessions with beer and wine; enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the summer season; and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and magnificent gardens. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In the fall and winter, concerts are presented in the splendid Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.

Getting to Caramoor

Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.

By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.

By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available and free shuttle service is available for most performances. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.

For high-resolution photos, click here.

Arts Westchester

All concerts made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from the Westchester County Government.



All concerts made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.


The 2018 Summer Music Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

© 21C Media Group, June 2018


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