June 7 2016 03:03 PM

Organ for the Senses bridges audio and visual arts

Spreckels Organ

Parkeology is holding a unique audio-visual concert at Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion on June 10, titled Organ for the Senses. The project will juxtapose commissioned compositions by Michael Pisaro, Samuel Dunscombe, Sofia Gubaidulina, Steve Flato and Alvin Lucier, along with students of the UCSD Survey of Electronic Music Techniques III course, with live projections of a seismograph that creates visual representations of the sound itself.

Parkeology leader and visual artist Kate Clark says she initially had an idea to do a concert at Balboa Park's now-closed Starlite Theater, but became inspired by the idea of the Spreckels Organ as a vessel for avant garde musical performance.

"The organ has been likened to a giant box of crayons, or a giant analog synthesizer," she says. "So, the idea was, we thought it'd be really exciting to bring experimental composers in to work within that idea."

Organ for the Senses was initially proposed last year, and since then the concert has grown to become an ambitious project. One of the compositions involves snare drums placed throughout the organ pavilion with objects on them that vibrate when the organ plays. Because it's such a left-field performance, considerably different than the more traditional classical pieces of most organ concerts, composers will give brief introductions to their pieces as well, with sign language translations for the hearing impaired.

"We're having rehearsals all week. I am very curious and interested to see how the sounds will be received," Clark says. "It'll be totally different—a lot of the works are not melodic. So, because the music is less accessible, composers will be talking about their process."

More than anything, Clark is excited about the idea of being able to employ such a powerful instrument in the heart of a public space.

"In conversations...we've been talking about how fascinating it is that there's this huge vibrating object, and how powerful it is," she says. "And it's in the middle of a public, family friendly park."


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