Saturday, September 30, 2017 was a beautiful day to experience Suzanne Thorpe’s RESONANCE & RESEMBLANCE. The crowd was thoughtful, engaged and energized. An audience numbering 110 gathered to experience the work in the woodland garden that midcentury designer Russel Wright (1904-1976) created from an abandoned granite quarry and devastated landscape.
The work opened with a curated soundwalk on Manitoga’s trails, allowing the audience to becoming atuned to the site’s existing acoustic ecology. Soundwalk leaders Lisa B. Kelley, Stephanie Loveless and Michelle Nagai each led a group of guests on a journey that included site-specific listening engagements in diverse locations along Manitoga’s trails. Routes for the soundwalks were planned in advance with the consultation of Manitoga’s Landscape Manager Emily Phillips to highlight the sonic qualities of particular landmark locations on the property. At the completion of the soundwalk section of the performance, the audience was guided to their seating around the Quarry Pool for the second movement of Suzanne Thorpe’s sonic meditation.
When the walks commenced, musicians Katie Down, Madison Greenstone, Anne Guthrie and Adam Tinkle boarded their kayaks with their recorders and paddled to pre-determined positions on the Quarry Pool surface. The composer then took her place by the Studio at a table with her laptop and electronics. From her vantage point overlooking the Pool, she could direct all the activity. The players then commenced playing their instruments un-amplified with Thorpe conducting and periodically adding electronically generated tones through a system of speakers arranged discreetly around the water’s edge, and positioned to reflect off of the rock surfaces.
The piece was moving and delicate, never overwhelming the existing acoustic environment of the Quarry, but rather becoming a part of the whole. Indeed, passing freight trains, birds, the wind and other spontaneous elements added their voices to the work. The sound resonated off the Quarry Pool’s granite walls, as well as the surface of the water for a truly immersive experience. At the conclusion, all guests were invited to gather in Russel Wright’s historic Dragon Rock home for a post-performance reception with the artists to celebrate the work.
The video included with this post is a montage of photos taken during the performance with 10 minutes of samples from the live sound. The composer is currently producing a more extended video documentation of the performance which will be posted at a later date.