for moving choir along the water
T U R B I N E
Fairmount Water Works
May 16 & 17, 2015 · 7PM
In Turbine, the audience is immersed with music and movement in an outdoor performance along the water. The project was created for the 200th Anniversary of the Fairmount Water Works – an urban environmental center on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia – and is available for other civic waterways.
Byron Au Yong, composer
Leah Stein, choreographer
Alan Harler, conductor/music director
Duration: variable (circa one hour)
Commissioned and performed by Leah Stein Dance Company and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, conducted by Alan Harler, choreographed by Leah Stein
Alan Harler and Leah Stein brought me to the Fairmount Water Works in October 2013. The park and historic plaza were alive with people enjoying the autumn day next to the glistening waterway. Appropriately translated as “hidden river,” the Schuylkill turned from peaceful to terrifying when the following spring, the water crested at nearly 14 feet. The May 2014 flood brought a deluge to the Water Works. A place that was historically the source of clean water became filled with debris.
TURBINE draws upon accounts from the heyday of the Fairmount Water Works in the early 19th century. Visitors marveled at human ingenuity building “miraculous mechanical… cylinders and pistons” that worked with nature to provide “clear and bright as crystal, a cup for the thirsty.” This text is filtered through a 21st century reality to produce lyric fragments.
Migration as well as water molecules influence the music. Voices seep in and out of the sounds along the river. These include the noise of traffic and trains. Musical motifs connect and disconnect in a free molecular flow.
According to the World Health Organization, a child dies from a water-related disease every minute. More than twice the population of the United States lives without access to safe water. How can we turn despair and rage into wisdom?
Singing and listening to a river in the middle of a city is a step towards “justice journeying to harbor.” A turbine takes turbulence and transforms it into potential energy. Together we can find ways to ensure that the 750 million people around the world who lack access to safe water are given a chance to survive.Byron Au YongFebruary 2015
compiled and edited by Byron Au Yong, from the following sources:
· Critical and Poetical Works, John Penn (1797)
II GRAND PLAZA
· The Poetry of Traveling in the United States, Caroline Howard Gilman (1838)
· American Notes for General Circulation, Charles Dickens (1842)
· Mark Twain’s Letters, Mark Twain (1853-1866)
· Impressions of America, Tyrone Power (1836)
· Travels in the United States of America and Canada, John Finch (1833)
· Travels in North America, Charles Augustus Murray (1834-1836)
· The Fairmount Quadrilles, John Hewitt (1836)
· Gazetteer of the United States of America, John Hayward (1854)
· Travels in the United States, Alexander Mackay (1846-1847)
· Domestic Manners of Americans, Francis Trollope (1832)
· Transatlantic Sketches, Captain J.E. Alexander (1833)
· Inscriptions on Templates for Turbine Parts, Philadelphia Water Department (1920s)
· Essays, Philanthropic and Moral, Elizabeth Margaret Chandler (1836)
· Early Poems, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
· American Notes for General Circulation, Charles Dickens (1913)
“Site-specific virtuoso choreographer Leah Stein and composer Byron Au Yong create an experience with performers and audience moving throughout the entire site at the Fairmount Water Works.”
Lora Allen, Alan Harler, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Michelle Hollander, Adam Levine (Philadelphia Water Department), Deenah Loeb (City Parks Association), Edward McNally, Leah Stein, Leah Stein Dance Company, Library Company of Philadelphia, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, New Music USA, Rebecca Thornburgh and Family, Schuylkill Banks, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Richard Tolsma, William Penn Foundation, Karen Young (Fairmount Water Works)