The OBIE-winning HERE (Kristin Marting, Founding Artistic Director) is proud to announce a return to in-person events with the premiere of Cairns, a self-guided soundwalk for Green-Wood Cemetery written and narrated by HERE resident artist Gelsey Bell. Commissioned by HERE as part of its new #stillHERE: IRL series, Cairns takes the listener on a solitary poetic journey of one of New York’s most beloved and sacred places. Featuring original music by Bell and composer Joseph White, Cairns has been created for social-distancing New Yorkers to meditate on the land we inhabit, sink into an arboreal temporality, and unearth the stories of a few historic trailblazers.
Participants are encouraged to download the audio tracks onto their mobile device and have Cairns lead them through the spectacular landscape of Green-Wood Cemetery in person. However, Cairns can also be experienced at home, allowing the audio to transport the listener to a lush natural space rich with history. Cairnsis $7 to download, launches on July 31, and will run indefinitely. Visit here.org for more information.
Over the course of Cairns, listeners will visit the sites of a number of inhabitants including three groundbreaking women from the 19th century: Do-Hum-Me, an indigenous Sauk woman who was one of the first beloved native performers in New York; Eunice Newton Foote, a scientist and inventor who first theorized the science behind global warming; and Susan S. McKinney-Steward, the first African-American woman physician in New York State and third in the United States.
“Knowing that we can’t gather together in theaters, a soundwalk seemed like a perfect way to experience music and storytelling,” says Bell. “The unique intimacy of the art form speaks to the isolation many of us have experienced over the last few months. I grew up hiking through areas where you rely on cairns, stacked stones, to follow the trail, and I think the stories of the people we visit in Green-Wood can act as spiritual trail-markers for navigating the moment we find ourselves in. The women we visit all offer something that speaks to the current crises we are facing in American life: sickness, racism, climate change, the inheritance of settler colonialism, and how we inhabit land today. Cairns was made from dozens of hours of field recordings made onsite in Green-Wood and I’m very pleased the piece can offer to transport its sonic beauty to listeners wherever they are. In this piece, the birds talk for themselves.”
The walk begins at Green-Wood’s Sunset Park entrance, located at 4th Avenue and 35th Street. Lasting a little over an hour, individuals are encouraged to move at their own pace, wear appropriate footwear, and to bring water. Guests should plan an additional 15 minutes following the end of the soundwalk to return to the Sunset Park entrance.
The additional creative team for Cairns includes Brent Arnold (mixing, mastering), Linda M. Waggoner (history consultation), and Thomas Haggerty (bagpipes).
Cairns is commissioned by HERE and is presented in partnership with Green-Wood Cemetery. Additional funding from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
About the artists
Gelsey Bell is a singer, songwriter, and scholar. She has been described by the New York Times as “a charismatic and fiercely intelligent performer,” whose performance of her own music is “virtuosic” and “glorious noise.” She has released multiple recordings, is a current HARP Artist at HERE Arts Center, and received a Foundation for Contemporary Arts award for music/sound. She is a core member of thingNY, Varispeed, and the Chutneys. Her works include Bathroom Songs, Scaling, Our Defensive Measurements, shuffleyamamba (with Yasuko Yokoshi), Prisoner’s Song (with Erik Ruin), SubtracTTTTTTTTT and This Takes Place Close By (with thingNY), and the acclaimed adaptation of Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives (with Varispeed). Performance highlights also include Dave Malloy’s Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812 (Broadway) and Ghost Quartet, Robert Ashley’s Improvement and Crash, Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s River of Fundament, Kate Soper’s Here Be Sirens, and Gregory Whitehead’s On the Shore Dimly Seen. www.gelseybell.com
Joseph White is a composer, lyricist and performer working in music and theatre. Recent work includes The Wagging Craze (Ars Nova’s ANTFest, Kyoto International Performing Arts Festival, upcoming at Prague Fringe), and feminine octagon (LPAC Rough Draft). He also composed for, and music-directed, Agnes Borinsky’s Of Government (Clubbed Thumb Summerfest), Ding Dong: It’s the Ocean (JACK/HERE Arts-HARP). He is currently completing the album of “The Wagging Craze,” for release on Gold Bolus Recordings, and composing the opera “You Against Nature” for ThingNY. www.joewhitenoise.com
The OBIE-winning HERE (Kristin Marting, Founding Artistic Director) was named a Top Ten Off-Off Broadway Theatre by Time Out New York and is a leader in the field of producing and presenting new, hybrid performances viewed as a seamless integration of artistic disciplines—theatre, dance, music and opera, puppetry, media, visual and installation, spoken word and performance art.
HERE’s standout productions include Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, Taylor Mac’s The Lily’s Revenge, Trey Lyford & Geoff Sobelle’s all wear bowlers, Young Jean Lee’s Songs of the Dragons Flying to Heaven, James Scruggs’ Disposable Men, Corey Dargel’s Removable Parts, Robin Frohardt’s The Pigeoning, and Basil Twist’s Symphonie Fantastique and, this season Looking at You by Rob Handel, Kristin Marting and Kamala Sankaram and Zoey Martinson’s The Black History Museum According to the United States of America.
Since its founding in 1993, HERE and the artists it has supported have received 18 Obies, 2 Bessies, 5 Drama Desk Nominations, 2 Pulitzer Prizes, 4 Doris Duke Awards, 7 Tony Nominations, and 2 MacArthur Fellowships.