COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Philip Blackburn will present “Sun Palace: A Tribute to Cragmor Sanatorium” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3 p.m. Nov. 3 at Berger Hall on the campus of the University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
This multi-media “hyper-opera” is free and open to all. A trailer is below.
Additional images are available upon request.
“The Sun Palace” is a multi-media performance that pays tribute to the history of Cragmor in its heyday as a tuberculosis sanatorium. In the early years of the 20th century, it flourished as a luxury establishment for wealthy society elites to rest and chase the cure of America’s leading cause of death, tuberculosis. The fresh air and sunshine offered the best prescription for treating the disease that had no other cure at that time. Cragmor attracted the richest victims, including many celebrities and artists who mentioned that they were “vacationing in Colorado” until further notice, such was the stigma of the disease.. Some stayed behind after their recovery and helped Colorado Springs prosper. Thus, a bacterium led to the creation of a sizeable city.
The Cragmor Sanatorium grounds became what is now known as the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. Main and Cragmor halls on the UCCS campus trace their linage to the sanatorium.
“The Sun Palace” draws on descriptions of daily life at the premier tuberculosis hospital and the artistic output of the residents who were 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.
Antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis are making a comeback around the world, often in conjunction with HIV infection. This performance will evoke parallels between these deadly plagues and the stigmas associated with them while celebrating the joys of life and healing.
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.
For more information on Blackburn, artist in residence at UCCS, visit http://www.philipblackburn.com/
This project is made possible by the support of the University of Colorado Diversity and Excellence Grant, funded through the Office of the President, the UCCS Department of Visual and Performing Arts, the UCCS College of Letters, Arts and Science, UCCS Matrix Center, and Theatreworks. UCCS Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences students will also contribute to the event.
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.