Muscota Marsh Harmony
Muscota Marsh Harmony
June 21, 2018
218th St & Indian Rd Inwood NYC
Muscota Marsh Harmony is a public, site-specific, music performance that integrates the local environment, community, and history of the northernmost part of Manhattan Island. Set in Muscota Marsh, near tidal wetlands, singers harmonize with their surroundings along with the personal recollections of community members recorded and played back through unobstrusive speakers scattered throughout the park space. This 45 minute performance invites the audience to wander through the park and listen to the stories and songs unfold.
Kristen Lamb Kasarjian
Terrance von Solomone
John P. Hastings
The Inwood neighborhood of New York City is a dynamic place with a fascinating history, from the Native Americans to its present place as a center for the Dominican diaspora. I want to focus this project in few different ways: between human intervention and the natural environment; between diverse English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities; and between history and the present. My idea is to harmonize these dialectics into something approaching cohesion and to re-frame these differences into something new for the community.
A short interview, via Make Music NY:
Make Music New York’s Executive Director, James Burke, spoke with composer John Hastings about 2018 Make Music New York's special project "Muscota Marsh Harmony."
JB: Hi John! I'm thrilled to be presenting your latest special project "Muscota Marsh Harmony" as part of this summer's Make Music New York on June 21st. I know that you have worked with MMNY in the past as well. Can you share with our fans some of your history with the festival?
JH: Hi James! I’ve been working with MMNY since 2012 when I did an audience participation piece called “HUM 7 8 9,” where people would join with me in humming along with the ConEd substation in DUMBO. It was a place I discovered during a neighborhood walk and it was great fun to integrate the city’s sound environment with a sonic seance of sorts. I did that piece a few times, as well as a performance of Christian Wolff’s Stones in Red Hook, at the beach near Valentino Pier Park, in 2015. As with my humming piece, the audience were the performers as we all collected stones from the beach and made sounds with them together. One of the joys of Make Music New York is having people from all walks of life engaged with sound and music in all sorts of ways.
JB: Back to "Muscota Marsh Harmony”, can you explain the program for our followers and speak to the inspiration behind the concept?
JH: Muscota Marsh Harmony is a performance that was directly inspired by my neighborhood and community in Inwood, at the top of Manhattan. What I want to do is to harmonize different parts of the neighborhood, whether it be the community, culture, history, and even the environment itself. How this will manifest is through four performers, moving through the park space, singing different pitches and melodies remembered from their own personal histories. Interviews that I conducted with my neighbors will also be featured, played back through mini-speakers scattered throughout the park. The audience then is free to move through the park and to listen the singers and interviewees relate their perspectives and stories.
JB: Make Music New York is all about uniting New Yorkers in our shared social spaces through the power of music and you have identified a unique and site specific performance venue. How is the program integrated into the layout of the park?
JH: The Muscota Marsh is a reclaimed wetland that sits near the convergence of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers, properly called Spuyten Duyvil Creek. I wanted to site the performance at this place, between land and water, itself a kind of harmoniousness. With this performance, I don’t want to force the sound into the park: I want to place the singers and the pre-recorded interviews as an outgrowth of what would already be there. I see my contribution as a sonic “scrim” over the environment. Our NYC parks are really a shared space for all of us and this performance will only add to that.
JB: What are you most looking forward to and how can Make Music New York fans best enjoy the performance?
JH: I’m most looking forward to the warm weather! Make Music New York is always a fantastic day and I hope to take in at least a couple other concerts before mine in the evening. For people coming to see Muscota Marsh Harmony I would say come with an open mind and be ready to be surprised by seeing such a pastoral scene in Upstate Manhattan!