Friday, April 25, 2008

Uscir ad ascoltar le Stelle - May 18th, Padova

The Giornata dell'Ascolta (Listening Day) festival commissioned the site specific sound installation, "uscir ad ascoltar le stelle…,” for the entrance of the Santa Maria dei Servi Church in the medieval city of Padova, Italy. As listeners enter the church for Sunday mass, they will experience an audio triptych that echoes themes and structures linked to the ancient architecture, painting, literature, and sounds that are essential to Padova's cultural heritage. Sound will emanate from the top of the portico structure, an architectural hallmark of the city.

I created the sound in collaboration with composer Maura Capuzzo, using sounds of sacred music from around the world. The title,  "uscir ad ascoltar le stelle....,"  is derived from the final words of Dante's Inferno: "Then we came forth, to see again the stars." The title suggests the idea of listening to, and feeling, something immaterial that comes from another word, the world of  sacred feelings and attitude. In the case of our installation, the title asks our listeners to "listen to the sacred world of our collective civilization ..."

The piece is a departure from any work that I have done in the past. Our commissioners asked for ten hours of continuous, non-repeating sound. I tell my composition students that duration is the first consideration when planning a work. Setting out to create a ten hour sound installation changed the way that Maura and I approached everything, from sonic result to process to artistic dialog. In addition, the site itself suggested things that were new, such as devising a three speaker configuration to match the theme of the trinity.

"uscir ad ascoltar le stelle...."  is one of seven sound installations that will adorn a 400-meter stretch of Padova's main boulevard, via Roma. Together, these seven installations form a rondeau form (i.e., A1 - B1 - A2 - C - A3 - B2 - A4). Nicola Bernardini (Berklee '81), installation organizer and director of electronic music at Padova's Pollini Conservatory, titled this series of installations "Rondò da Passeggio" or "Rondeau to go." This is a pun on the classic rondo form and an ice-cream they do in Venice, the 'gianduiotto da passeggio'. It's an ice-cream that you pick up and stroll around with, you are not supposed to eat it on the premises (double whipped cream: top *and* bottom). Festival director Dr. Sergio Durante is encouraging all stores and restaurants to give their radio and CD playback a rest for the day and emphasize the unique sounds of the city and its musicians.

Berkee alumni Anthony Baldino and Spencer Putnam assisted in the realization of the audio.

No comments: