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An Immersive Labyrinth of Sounds

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This article was originally published in the Sunday, February 20, 2022 issue of the Syracuse Post Standard Empire Magazine. Written by Gabriel Veiga.

Charley Friedman installation explores how we experience music — individually and in community.

Empire/The Post Standard

Article Excerpt:

A PLAYLIST THAT TRANSCENDS POLITICS

Their final task was finding music for the unconventional orchestra to play.

Friedman, who enjoys music but isn’t a musician, decided to find composers interested in building a playlist for the exhibit.

Friedman knew he wanted something that resembled Brian Eno’s music.

“I wanted something that was atmospheric and something that’s not dissonant,” Friedman explained. “We live in a time which is so dissonant, you know, where people are kind of taking black or white, or this or that. And I actually wanted to pick a piece that was more about unification and about the act of unifying.”

Different composers brought their own styles and ideas. Composer Dereck Higgins focused on punk and jazz. Nicholas Lemme offered sacred choral music and cafe Americana.

Friedman wants new composers to come in and add to his playlist every time the exhibit moves from museum to museum. For the Everson exhibit, Friedman tapped New York’s own genius composer, David Fullmer.

“When you hear the piece, it’s kind of this cacophony of … beautiful sound,” Friedman said of the non-linear experience.

“It’s completely immersive,” he continued said. “I wanted to make a piece that covered how it affects us in the body… our emotions, our psychology.”

The basses, mandolins and guitars form an eclectic ensemble. Friedman wasn’t particular when he asked for donations via Kickstarter, but he asked that musicians sign their names to their instrument.

“I need a diversity of instruments… your guitar (will become) an integral part of the artwork,” he wrote, promising a new life to “lonely acoustic guitars that you sadly never use anymore.”

Friedman says he hopes that viewers will listen to the harmony of the diverse instruments and see the larger picture.

“Music plays a profound role in our cultural identity,” he wrote. “When we love a song, it has the power to stimulate the full spectrum of feelings and memories. This power is also capable of building empathy and transcending political discord.

“I want to create a piece that dissects, affirms and perhaps makes us question our own personal myths of what it means to be an American.”