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HERE Returns to In-Person Events With CAIRNS, a Self-Guided Soundwalk for Green-Wood Cemetery

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CAIRNS was written, and is narrated by, HERE resident artist Gelsey Bell.

HERE Returns to In-Person Events With CAIRNS, a Self-Guided Soundwalk for Green-Wood Cemetery

The OBIE-winning HERE has announced 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. Cairns is $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.


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