The first event of this season’s New Sounds Live concert series is “Requiem for Fossil Fuels,” a site-specific memorial mass combining human voices and ambient sound. It’s the result of more than twenty years of work and collaboration by Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger, two sound artists/composers and sonic thinkers. The performance takes place at 7PM in the World Financial Center's Winter Garden on Friday, November 12th. Admission is FREE.
This new setting of the Latin requiem mass weaves together sounds generated by fossil-fueled machines such as helicopters, jets, cars, buses, horns and sirens with four virtuosic human voices: the celebrated singers Hai-Ting Chinn (mezzo soprano), Martha Cluver (soprano), Mark Uhlemann (bass) and Geoffrey Silver (tenor), who will perform live.
Each section of “Requiem for Fossil Fuels” uses a location recording and its real-time flow as cantus firmus, or baseline song. Laid over this are additional found sounds of a fossil-fueled culture, organized into the assorted “voices” of a choral piece. O+A’s collection of recordings is the product of their ongoing search for a “hearing perspective,” an awareness of the otherwise disregarded sounds produced by modern societies.
As is their signature, Odland and Auinger are taking advantage of all of the unique features of the 10-story atrium, which they consider a modern urban cathedral, to produce a site-specific musical meditation on the balance between machines, humans and nature.
This performance will be recorded for later broadcast on WNYC 93.9 FM and wnyc.org.
Bruce Odland — sonic thinker, composer, and sound artist — is known for his large scale, public space sound installations which transform city noise into harmony, realtime, as well as for his innovative musical compositions and sound designs for the theater. In 2004 he and Sam Auinger (O+A) altered the harmonic mix of the World Financial Center Plaza using the moon, tides, harmonic tuning tubes, and cement loudspeakers ("Blue Moon"). Together they have changed the sonic character of many public spaces around the world.
His many collaborations include work with Laurie Anderson, Dan Graham, André Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Peter Sellars, Joanne Akailitis, Robert Woodruff, Tony Oursler, Peter Erskine, and the Wooster Group. He has contributed ideas and energy to projects in theatre, film, dance, public art, festivals, radio, and museums. His "Sounds from the Vaults", a playable orchestra of virtual instruments for the Field Museum in Chicago, won the Gold Muse Award from the Association of American Museums. In 2007, his first indoor gallery show, “Hearing Space”, was installed, and O+A’s “Requiem for fossil fuels ” was performed to acclaim at Judson Memorial Church in NYC. He is currently working in London with André Gregory and Wallace Shawn at the Royal Court, and he will be in L.A. with the Wooster Group this summer.
Sam Auinger, sonic thinker, composer, sound-artist
Together with Bruce Odland he founded O+A in 1989. Their central theme is "hearing perspective". Their work is known for large scale, public space sound installations which transform city noise into harmony in real-time. 2009 O+A started on the "Sonic Commons" questioning the dominance of the visual culture in our perception of the world. Auinger is also a founding member of "stadtmusik" a collaboration between the Berlin-based composers Sam Auinger and Hannes Strobl with the media artist Dietmar Offenhuber. Stadtmusik deals with sound in cities, by analysing sound structures which are triggered by urban buildings and facilities. www.stadtmusik.org
Over the years Sam Auinger has received numerous prizes and awards for his work. Most recently he became the youngest artist to receive the Kultur Preis der Stadt Linz (2002) to honor his body of work, the daad-stipendium (1997) and the SKE Publicity Preis 2007. Besides his artistic work, Sam Auinger is a guest professor at the University of the Arts in Berlin, running the department Experimental Sounddesign at Master's Program Sound Studies – Acoustic Communication.