CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The musicians who will perform during the Sonified Sustainability Festival not only play handmade instruments, they design and build them as well.
The festival, presented during Earth Week and in its second year, celebrates sustainable practices in the arts.
“One of the things I aim to present at the Sonified Sustainability Festival is the idea that you can make sound from any material, and that music can be made from any sound,” said Jason Finkelman, the director of Global Arts Performance Initiatives, a program of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts that produces the festival.
Instrument designer and jazz musician Cooper-Moore will kick off the festival with a performance at a Sudden Sound Concert at 7:30 p.m. April 20 at Krannert Art Museum. Cooper-Moore is a pianist, but at the Sudden Sound Concert will focus on his handmade instruments, including the diddley bow, a three-string fretless banjo and a mouth bow.
Cooper-Moore will be honored in late May with a Lifetime of Achievement award from Arts for Art, a New York City nonprofit organization that provides a showcase for free jazz musicians to use their music for social justice. Cooper-Moore was active in the civil rights and peace movements in his youth, and became a pivotal musician in the free jazz movement in the late 1960s in New York City, according to Arts for Art. He has also worked with young people through music programs around the world.
While on campus, Cooper-Moore will be at Allen Hall, 1005 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, at 7 p.m. April 17 for a conversation, instrument demonstration and informal performance. The event is open to the public. He will also speak to students at four area elementary schools during the week.
Terry Dame plays electronic music using interactive, sensor-driven sound controllers that she creates. She’ll perform at the Sonified Sustainability Festival on Earth Day, April 22, at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo by Lisa Guido
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The festival will feature three performers at its Earth Day celebration from 2 to 5 p.m. April 22 at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Terry Dame composes and plays electronic music on instruments she builds from repurposed materials. Her current work involves interactive, sensor-driven sound controllers that she builds from found objects. Dame will also visit elementary schools, and she’ll speak and give an instrument demonstration and informal performance at 4:15 p.m. April 24 at the Urbana Free Library.
The other performers on Earth Day are Bradford Reed, who performs on his “amazing pencilina” – an electric board zither, and Geoff Gersh, who pushes the capabilities of the electric guitar with the aid of found objects.
“(Reed’s) playing technique is very unusual because he approaches it from the perspective of being a drummer,” Finkelman said. “It could be very drumset-oriented aggressive playing, or he’ll bow the strings or pluck the strings, and the dynamic completely changes.”
Dame, Reed and Gersh will each perform short sets at 2 and 3 p.m. on Earth Day, and at 4 p.m. they’ll perform in various collaborations with each other and guest artists. The festival’s Earth Day celebration includes family activities and information from local organizations including Fresh Press, the Gadget Garage and The I.D.E.A. Store.
Reed and Gersh will play together as Reel Orchestrette to provide a live music accompaniment to the 1924 silent film “The Epic of Everest.” The film will be shown at 7 p.m. April 23 at Spurlock Museum. It depicts a failed attempt to summit Mount Everest, and it includes a short montage of footage of Tibetan life at the time.
“(Viewers) get to see an early exploration in wilderness that doesn’t exist anymore in that way,” Finkelman said.
A second film, “Koyannisqatsi,” will be shown at 7 p.m. April 25 at Spurlock Museum. “Koyannisqatsi” – the title is a Hopi word meaning “life out of balance” – is a documentary film portraying the collision between urban life and wilderness, with a score by Phillip Glass.
“This film was very unique 35 years ago when it premiered. There had been nothing like it at the time – just a musical score without narration and the visual elements,” Finkelman said.
The festival will conclude with soundwalks in two Urbana parks. Eric Leonardson, a Chicago-based audio artist, will lead walks at Meadowbrook Park and Busey Woods to encourage participants to listen more deeply to the soundscapes of their environments. Leonardson is a performer, composer and sound designer, and a professor of sound at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The soundwalks will take place at 2:30, 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. April 27-28. The April 27 walks are at Meadowbrook Park and the April 28 walks are at Busey Woods. They are free, but tickets are required and the walks are limited to 25 people each.
All the Sonified Sustainability Festival events are free and open to the public. The festival is supported by a grant from the Student Sustainability Committee, with additional funding from Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Other co-sponsors are Krannert Art Museum and Unit One at Allen Hall.