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Echo Chamber: Interactive Sound Sculpture for Installation and Performance

Echo Chamber is an interactive instrument and public sound sculpture for the citizens of Washington D.C

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Echo Chamber

Posted on August 14, 2019 by Ning Yu

Echo Chamber premiered with four live performances at the Marvin Center of the George Washington University on April 15th, 2019 followed by a three-week-long exhibition. Echo Chamber took a team of ten people over the course of two days to install.  The live-performances took place in front a participating audience made up of hundreds of current university students, incoming students, faculty members, university employees, local community members, and many art-lovers from Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and New York.  


Echo Chamber is an interactive sound sculpture that encompasses public art, musical composition, and piano performance. It is a collaboration between site-specific public artist Mark Reigelman, music composer David Bird, and pianist Ning Yu. The primary aim of this work is to offer an expressive extension of the piano, as well as reflective, playful, and interactive public sculpture for the citizens of Washington D.C. Echo Chamber is a musical and visual experience that brings itself to the general public and invite them to explore, walk around, listen, speak, sing, and meditate.

The Echo Chamber sound sculpture is over 11 feet tall and consists of an array of 56 resonant metal tubes each with a reflective and colorized endcap. The oval shaped metal tubes range between three feet to ten feet long, and each tube is tuned to a unique resonant frequency and contains a powered speaker capable of playing back a two-hour multichannel composition by David Bird.  This composition will utilize two sound materials: the prerecorded environmental sounds from the location the sound sculpture is being installed, and the prerecorded piano performance by Ning Yu. This composition will take advantage of the unique resonant qualities of each tube as well as their composite harmony within the sound sculpture.  This expansive multichannel composition will loop within the resonant structure during viewing hours of the installation. The spacious harmonies of the composition will work to intertwine, complement, and reinforce the acoustic properties of the sculpture.

Echo Chamber will be installed in the courtyard garden at Phillips Hall on the campus of the George Washington University in Washington DC, and will open to the public on April 15th, 2019, and the introduction of the project will coincide with two live duet performances between the sound sculpture and Ning Yu. In performance, Ning will be situated next to the sculpture, and will provide an additional sonic layer to the composition. The sculpture will in turn process the piano sound and integrate it into the reverberate sound world of the prerecorded sounds. Following this performance, Echo Chamber will remain open to the public for the following month where its prerecorded element will continue during viewing hours.

Commissioning composer David Bird for this project was an obvious choice because of his unique background in exploring sound in public spaces. His work engages with many of the themes explored in this project, including performance in natural soundscapes that solicit the active participation of the public, and the conversation between performer and resonant space. His work “Mediums” for Ning Yu and the members of Yarn/Wire, had performers interacting with various acoustic environments around New York City with vocoder keyboards, and was featured on their album “Yarn/Wire/Currents Vol. 3”.

The majority of the Echo Chamber project is funded by the George Washington University’s Columbian College Facility Fund.  This New Music USA project grant will help support the recording of the prerecorded material, as well as provide a commission fee for the composer.


Project Media

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Features: Ning Yu, David Bird

“Mediums” was composed for and performed by Yarn/Wire: Ian Antonio and Russell Greenberg, percussion; Laura Barger and Ning Yu, pianos, and was produced for the project Yarn/Wire/Currents which explores the intersections of composition, technology, installation, live performance, and music theater. The title,”Mediums” refers in one instance to media itself and the process of transcription, which played a significant role in the creation of the piece.
Music and Video by David Bird, Cinematography by David Bird and Bernhard Fasenfest

The Reading Nest
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Features: Mark Reigelman

The Reading Nest is inspired by mythical objects and creatures of knowledge. For centuries, objects in nature have been associated with knowledge and wisdom. Trees of enlightenment and scholarly owls have been particularly prominent in this history of mythological objects of knowledge. The Reading Nest acts as a visual intermediary between forest and fowl. It symbolizes growth, community and knowledge while continuing to embody these mythical roots. The Reading Nest was created with over 10,000 discarded wood boards found throughout Cleveland.

Moebius-Ring (2003) by Misato Mochizuki
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Features: Ning Yu

Moebius-Ring is the mathematical paradox of the ribbon folded on itself: one passes successively from the front side to the back of the ring while remaining on the same face of the ribbon. My “Moebius-Ring” is a series of variations based on repetitive pulsations. At each cycle the piano tries to escape these pulsations but invariably returns, like an impression of “already seen” or a dream premonitory. The tempo expands or contracts with each new passage. The US premiere of the piece was given by Ning Yu in 2017 at Miller Theatre, NYC.

Start and End Dates



Washington, District Of Columbia

1 update
Last update on August 14, 2019

Project Created By

NEW YORK, New York
Praised for her, “taut and impassioned performance” by the New York Times, pianist Ning Yu performs with vigor and dedication for traditional and repertoire of the 20th and 21st century on stages across the United States, Europe and Asia. Ning brings virtuosity and adventurous spirit to a wide range of music, both in solo performances…

In Collaboration With

New York, New York


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