Back in October, PPS provided you with a preview of how chamber music and placemaking are coming together in the unprecedented Sound Places program. Since then, program partners Chamber Music America (CMA), the Louisiana Division of the Arts (LDOA), and Project for Public Spaces (PPS), with grant support from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), have selected two of Louisiana’s Cultural Districts and two of America’s finest ensembles to collaborate in perfect harmony within the framework of this residency program.
Later this month (see event details at the bottom of this post), during the week of January 30th, ensembles will make their first trips to Louisiana as the Sound Places program officially kicks off with a full week of community engagement, interactive performances, artist seminars, educational collaborations, and public space activations.
The program week begins with three days in Opelousas with the Houston-based ensemble WindSync—a young, innovative and diverse wind quintet, eager to share Louisiana stories through music. Opelousas, an old French Creole town, is the center of Zydeco music. Therefore, the core focus of this project is to expose elementary school students and their families to new genres both inside and outside the classroom. WindSync and the Opelousas Cultural District team are working with school representatives to develop a program for students to experience music in a hands-on way through active listening, call-and-response, and even by holding a musical instrument for the very first time. As Melanie Lee-Lebouef, Tourism Director of Opelousas, stated, “Opelousas is eager to engage our youth through chamber music and throughout the placemaking process. The opportunity to take part in the Sound Places initiative is crucial in infusing our Cultural District with energy, and in generating strength and growth in our community.”
Immediately following Opelousas, Rivertown Kenner will host another three days with The Westerlies—a Brooklyn-based brass quartet who are excited for a pilgrimage to the temple of brass, and are hoping to energize public spaces throughout the up-and-coming district.
The team in Rivertown Kenner, which is located 30 minutes from downtown New Orleans, anticipates the Sound Places residency to be the beginning of a long-term program that will support local talent throughout the city. Mike Ince, Main Street Manager of the City of Kenner, tells us that, “Kenner, like most other communities, is in dire need of another set of technical eyes and creative input on our development plans to revitalize our historic district. With this collaboration we will surely come away with a new sense of appreciation for what we already have available, as well as new lessons learned from all participating partners.” Kenner is brimming with musicians and artists who are often in the shadows of their peers in New Orleans, and the team is confident that the Westerlies will inspire and mentor local artists to pursue and share their music, fostering pride in the community through arts, culture, and vibrant public spaces.
These project teams are working to develop unique programs that utilize each ensemble’s skills and talents, while highlighting each district’s unique assets and addressing community development goals. WindSync and the Westerlies are thrilled to be immersed in local arts, culture, and community, and to collaborate with community members and local performing and visual artists on new and exciting projects. Both ensembles bring with them extensive experience in education and outreach, as well as performances in unconventional spaces.
The initial visits plan to focus heavily on community input and program development, where PPS staff will facilitate community-wide workshops including Power of 10 visioning sessions and the Place Game. Outcomes of these workshops will inform the future work of the Sound Places partnerships, such as public space activations and activities that showcase local arts and culture as well as the resident ensembles. Performances and activities led by WindSync and the Westerlies over the course of the upcoming year will take place in various key locations identified by local communities in Opelousas and Kenner, respectively. The strategic activation of public spaces are sure to engage local residents, demonstrate the importance of historic assets, highlight the potential of underutilized open spaces and vacant buildings, and spark interest in music and arts.
Sound Places Events:
Monday, January 30th between 5:30 and 8:30 pm;
Tuesday, January 31st between 3:30 and 6:30 pm. Following at 7:30 pm, all are invited to a live performance and meet-and-greet with WindSync.
Events are open to the public and will take place at the Delta Grand Theater, at 120 S Market St.
Workshop Part 1: Friday, February 3rd between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm at The Crossing, 519 Williams Blvd., in collaboration with the Kenner City Council.
Workshop Part 2: Saturday, February 4th, between 10:00 am and 2:30 pm, at the Kenner Council on Aging, 641 Compromise St., and will be interspersed with a series of mini performances by the Westerlies. Lunch will be served.
The Rivertown Kenner Art Market: Saturday, February 4th between 5:00 and 7:00 pm at the Kenner Public Art Courtyard, and will feature performances by the Westerlies and the Alfred Bonnabel High School brass band.