Airlift Brings Back the
Roving Music Houses
by Tori Bush, Programs Director, New Orleans Airlift
How can an artist fully inhabit a performance? How can a home be an instrument? New Orleans Airlift explores these questions through our ongoing musical architecture project, The Music Box. The newest iteration of this installation – The Roving Village Residencies – opened April 3, 2015. Kinetic, interactive musical architectural spaces will take up residence for 6 weeks at a time in three unexpected sites around New Orleans to host large-scale performances, artist talks, educational workshops and sound walks, as well as free interactive public hours for audiences to come visit and play with the musical houses.
The Roving Village will ramble throughout New Orleans’ neighborhoods, like a second line, bringing music to where people live. Imagine waking up to singing houses at the end of your block! Whether this sonic village turns up in a neighborhood like the Lower 9th Ward, or appears on a busy commercial strip in Central City, the installation will engage with New Orleans neighborhoods and the people who live there. The first Roving Village Residency is installed in the pastoral vista of City Park, a site accessible to all, where the Roving Village is nestled amongst the park’s giant live oaks, adorned with Spanish moss.
This rambling, sonic city was built by over fifteen artists and is engineered to be transportable with invented instruments embedded into the floors, walls, windows and ceilings of this brand new series of musical houses. Local and international artists, inventors, craftsmen and architects built these playable structures with the help of a variety of community partners ranging from non-profits and universities to children’s groups. April is the first time that the musical houses come together to create a traveling village of orchestral proportions — an amalgamation of architectural space and sound.
The unusual situation in which musicians find themselves playing houses allows them to let go of previously conceived ways of creating and performing music. In the past, composers’ strategies for conducting a musical village included mapping the tonal qualities of the structures or simply improvising. They’re communicating to performers using signs, flashing lights, and other innovative methods. There is still much ground to explore in these orchestral performances of musical architecture. Airlift seeks to create a new experience in music through spatial and sonic innovations that challenge traditional performance modes and celebrate a new way of making music.
We will be announcing the line up for upcoming performances of the Roving Village Residency: City Park soon! Previously, musicians such as Quintron, Mannie Fresh, Thurston Moore, Andrew W.K., and Hamid Drake were just some of the outstanding musicians from diverse genres who have validated the promise of musical architecture to interest and engage musicians in a new form of music. Stay tuned for an incredible line up of diverse local, national and international musicians who bring wide ranging audiences together.