Last Updated on Sunday, 05 August 2012 13:16 Written by Tom Krehbiel Thursday, 22 September 2011 20:48
I got this release from Tannoy today. I'm impressed, but not surprised.
When composer Joseph Bertolozzi and sound engineer Ron Kuhnke chose Tannoy Di 8DCs for an outdoor, site-specific art installation on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge, they knew the speakers were going to take some punishment from the elements. In fact, for Bertolozzi, durability was as important as sound quality.
He knew the speakers would have to function in nasty weather, but he never expected they’d have to stand up to a storm like Irene. "It rains, it gets cold, and we actually take the speakers down from October 31st to April 1st," he says, "because conditions on the bridge in winter are like being in the North Atlantic."
Bertolozzi ought to know. He was born in nearby Poughkeepsie, NY, and grew up virtually in the shadow of the bridge.
When news that Hurricane Irene was headed for the area reached him, he was justifiably concerned. Although Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it blew into the Mid-Hudson Valley, it still hit hard Irene submerged parkland on both sides of the river and packed winds up to 50 mph. After the storm, Bertolozzi expected to find trouble waiting for him on the bridge, but once there he was pleasantly surprised.
"The speakers hadn’t moved an inch. They still delivered crystal clear sound as if nothing happened. We lost power in the west tower, but when we reset it the speakers still worked fine. And on the east tower, we didn’t even lose power. You probably could have listened to the music if you were on the bridge hanging on for dear life during the storm."
Bertolozzi conceived Bridge Music in 2004 and it's his most unusual composition to date. He composed it exclusively from sounds created using a variety of mallets to strike the bridge’s guardrails, girders, spindles and ropes – virtually every possible surface with the exception of the road. Bertolozzi transformed the 3000-foot span into the world’s largest percussion rig, recording some 300 sounds during the process, categorizing them by location, note value and overall character. He recast the bridge as a virtual instrument.
You can hear the result online. But if you can get to the Mid-Hudson Bridge, the ideal place to experience Bertolozzi’s work is in the very environment that inspired it--at either of two listening stations located along the bridge’s pedestrian walkway. Installed in June 2009 to mark the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage up the Hudson, the listening stations are 1500-feet apart on the bridge’s two 315-foot high gothic towers. Each features a pair of Di 8DCs secured using Tannoy’s K-Ball wall mounts.