Montalvo Arts Center Presents the Premiere of A New Soundwork FOUR BRIDGES

Montalvo Arts Center Presents the Premiere of A New Soundwork FOUR BRIDGES

Visitors to the 175 acre-grounds of Montalvo Arts Center will be able to enhance their experience of exploring the Center's lush forest trails with Four Bridges, a newly commissioned soundwork by acclaimed composer Howard Hersh. Using wireless and geolocation technology Hersh, a Lucas Artists Composer Fellow, has created a sonic journey celebrating the beauty, mystery, and magic of the forest, leading hikers through redwood canyons into oak-lined meadows. Four Bridges combines instrumental music, the voices and laughter of a children's choir, field recordings, audio clips from archival sources, and readings of poetry and prose. Available for free download via the mobile app platform Detour, this work will allow visitors to enjoy the piece through the ear buds of their smartphones. The experience will be launched 2pm, April 29, at an Open Access event including a reception and live performance by Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley, followed by a half-hour hike revealing this new sonic work. After the premiere, Four Bridges will join a growing library of free audio content for Montalvo visitors, permanently available for their enjoyment upon any visit to Montalvo Arts Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga. For tickets to the Four Bridges Open Access Premiere event ($10 general/free for students and Montalvo members) and more information, the public may visit or call 408-961-5858.

In fairytales forests are often spaces of loss and abandonment (Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Rapunzel) but they are also spaces of sustenance and support where protagonists are tested, endure, and overcome. With Four Bridges, Hersh similarly intersperses light, airy and playful interludes with sober passages and subject matter, as he draws upon the voices of the past to explore shared human experience.

Some of Four Bridges' most compelling audio material features the voices of victims of political and social injustice: Holocaust survivor Renee Firestone recounts her imprisonment in Auschwitz; Japanese American Masamizu Kitajima describes how his childhood came to an end after his father was forced to relocate to a WWII internment camp; and anonymous Chinese immigrants memorialize their detainment on Angels Island through the verses they inscribed on Immigration Station walls. Theses voices from the past are used to demonstrate how the politics of mobility are entangled in the politics of difference, an observation that continues to resonate in current times.

Describing his new work, composer Howard Hersh notes, "Four Bridges celebrates the beauty, mystery and magic of the forest. Through its music and texts, I hope to create a sonic portrait of the powerful ties that bind humanity to the forest, and the mythology through which these bonds are expressed. The woods enrich and nurture us with their enduring presence; they are also the eternal observers that absorb and reflect the tragedies of our own dark tales. This immersive sonic journey does not dwell on darkness, however; it is infused with the innocent laughter of the child fairies and a lightness that promises redemption and joy."

Hersh worked with a number of collaborators to realize this new work, including several prominent poets and performers (many of whom he met while an Artists Fellow at Montalvo's Sally & Don Lucas Artists Program), and the Cantabile Youth Singers of Silicon Valley. Four Bridges was commissioned by the Lucas Artists Program at Montalvo Arts Center and is presented as part of Walkscapes, a developing collection and program of artists walks on Montalvo's grounds, many of which are presented Detour. Current offering include Soundings: Lucas Artists Composer Fellows, two curated guided walks that bring the concert stage to the great outdoors by inviting visitors to explore Montalvo's grounds while listening to a diverse range of sonic work by Lucas Artists Composer Fellows and their collaborators.

This project is made possible through the generous support of the Jo & Barry Ariko Fund for Artistic Programs, Jennifer & Philip DiNapoli, Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Sally & Don Lucas, Benjamin Lyon, National Endowment for the Arts, and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

Howard Hersh is a U.S. based composer who has received many awards for his work from such organizations as Meet the Composer, the American Symphony Orchestra League, the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, the Puffin Foundation, the Rex Foundation, and the Irvine Foundation. Hersh's works have been performed at venues that range from the Tanglewood Festival to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, from European concert halls to the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Together with his composition work, Hersh has founded and directed many new music groups, including the San Francisco Conservatory New Music Ensemble, and served as Music Director of KPFA-FM. His latest CD of solo and ensemble works Dancing in the Pink House was released this year. Hersh was awarded a Lucas Artists Fellowship in 2014.

Open Access offers the public a unique opportunity to connect with the world-class artists of the international Lucas Artists Program (LAP) and explore the creative process. Taking place throughout the year, Open Access offerings are conceived of as a "bite-size artistic sampler," featuring an array of activities that reflect the multidisciplinary approach of the LAP and the work of its diverse Fellows. These can include music and dance performances, readings, conversations, culinary projects and presentations, and feature hands-on art-making activities.

Montalvo Arts Center is a donor-supported nonprofit institution whose mission is to engage the public in the creative process, acting as a catalyst for exploring the arts, unleashing creativity, and advancing different cultural and cross-cultural perspectives. Located in Silicon Valley's Saratoga Hills, Montalvo occupies a Mediterranean-style Villa, built in 1912 by Senator James Duval Phelan and surrounded by 175 stunning acres. Senator Phelan bequeathed the Villa and grounds to the people of California for the encouragement of art, music, literature, and architecture, a mandate Montalvo has carried forward ever since its founding. The grounds include the campus of the Sally and Don Lucas Artists Residency Program (LAP), the Claire Loftus Carriage House Theatre, and the Lilian Fontaine Garden Theatre. For more information about Montalvo Arts Center and its programs, the public can call 408-961-5858 or visit

Photo Credit: Nathan Zanon

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