Brownstone Reverberations

November 12, 2010 5:35 pm 0 comments

People who came out to the Metropolis Brownstone event last Thursday crossed over the threshold of a beautiful three-story Brooklyn apartment into a different sonic universe. A choose-your-own-adventure spirit permeated the space as audience members meandered through bedrooms, the living room, kitchen, bathroom; each room was occupied by performing musicians. Composer Jakub Ciupinski had designed a site-specific piece for 10 musicians and electronics that highlighted the interaction between performer, venue, and audience.

There were people leaning over the stair railing on the top floor to hear music from different rooms rise up; in the hallways, people could physically feel the sound resonating through the walls. A few smiled as they sneaked through the bathroom to get to guest bedroom where violinist Kristin Lee was playing these beautifully drawn-out melodies. It was a warm and personal musical experience that you chose for yourself.

This was made all the more precious when you realized that it would actually be impossible to hear the piece in its entirety, since you couldn’t be in every room at once—the piece is physically so expansive. Some audience members strategized how to best maneuver around the apartment to attain their ideal listening experience, others were relieved that the piece would be performed twice so they had the chance to hear another perspective.

Explore these photos taken at the Brownstone event:

Photos by Sabrina Asch.

The piece was conceived during a conversation with artist Jenny Salomon, the owner of the home, who came up with the idea of hosting an event in a private home with musicians in every room. The musicians would be treated like art installations that people would walk around and watch perform. The project took off and expanded to incorporate actual art installations provided by the On Stellar Rays gallery, as well as sound effects that composer Jakub Ciupinski adapted from the BBC Nature Sound Effects Library.

Jakub’s music is incredibly gorgeous; it’s highly accessible tonally, resolvedly settled in an expansive sound-scape of A minor. Sounds of drones, modified buffalo roars, and parrots from the recording punctuate and add dimension to the piece’s texture, as the musicians imitate the sounds and expand on the motives. The layers of recording and instruments collide with each other, building a sound collage that engulfs the entire apartment.

The constant shuffle of people in and out of rooms added another dimension of energy to the piece. After the performance, people enthusiastically remarked on how engaged they were with the music, with the space, with the musicians, with each other during the piece. This was a fantastic way to open the season for Metropolis; we’re really proud of the community who made this event so amazing!

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