COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Philip Blackburn will present “Hearing the Mesa” and preview his upcoming work “Sun Palace: A Tribute to Cragmor Sanatorium” from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at University of Colorado Colorado Springs Heller Center for Arts & Humanities.
“Hearing the Mesa” (4 p.m.to 5 p.m.) and “Sun Palace Preview” (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) are free and open to all.
As part of environmental sound-artist Philip Blackburn’s residency for UCCS’s Visual and Performing Arts Department, participants are invited to a sound walk to experience the new wind harp installations at the Heller Center. Telegraph poles across the mesa have been converted into wind-powered musical instruments that whistle eerie Aeolian tones as the breeze passes across their wires. The outdoor ephemeral sculptures translate subtle wind energy into ever-shifting audible landscapes, extending the original purpose of the telegraph poles as long-distance conveyors of information.
By walking among them and listening, visitors help create the performance. This event will be filmed and also become part of the Sun Palace production scheduled for Nov. 2 and 3 on campus. Participants are invited to wear all-white clothing and strong shoes for walking. Participants may be given choreographed movements to do as they walk, listen and explore.
In preparation for the Nov. 2 and 3 live presentations of “Sun Palace: a Tribute to Cragmor Sanatorium,” Blackburn will show segments of the multi-media work in progress and tell the story behind the production. The Cragmor Sanatorium is now Main Hall on the UCCS campus.
The Sun Palace draws on descriptions of daily life at the tuberculosis mecca and the artistic output of the residents; painters, composers, singers, photographers, poets, and dancers. Approximately 90 minutes in duration, it is not a historical documentary so much as a cultural remix; an immersive environment of sights, sounds, and movement that together epitomize the experience of the place: merry melancholy, where sunbathing and parties are routine, and death is as present as the view of Pikes Peak.
Philip Blackburn was born in Cambridge, England, and studied music there as a choral scholar at Clare College. He earned his Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Iowa where he studied with Kenneth Gaburo and began work on publishing the Harry Partch archives. Blackburn’s book, “Enclosure Three: Harry Partch,” won an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Deems Taylor Award. He has worked at the American Composers Forum since 1991, running the innova Recordings label while developing re-granting programs and opportunities for composers.
He is also a public artist specializing in sound — a composer/environmental sound-artist — and has served as teaching artist for school residencies, creating large scale multi-media performances using home-made instruments. His Car Horn Fanfare for 8 ArtCars recently opened the Northern Spark Festival, and his Duluth Harbor Serenade was heard by many residents along the shores of Lake Superior. Blackburn has incorporated brainwave sensors and dowsing rods in performance as well as balloon flutes, car horns, smart phones, video, and wind-powered harps. He has published articles on topics such as Vietnamese, Garifuna, and Cuban music, the social dynamics of ensemble performance, and the use of sound in public art.
This project is partially supported by a University of Colorado Diversity and Excellence grant from the Office of the President with additional support from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and the UCCS Matrix Center.
To reach the Heller Center, visitors should enter from North Nevada Avenue, turning east onto North Campus Heights Road. For more information about the Heller Center or to see a map, please visit http://www.uccs.edu/~heller/contact.html.
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, located on Austin Bluffs Parkway in Colorado Springs, is one of the fastest growing universities in the nation. The University offers 36 bachelor’s degrees, 19 master’s and five doctoral degrees. UCCS enrolls about 9,800 students on campus annually and another 2,000 in online programs. For more information, visit www.uccs.edu.