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Nature and music find harmony in Wolf Trap’s new soundscape exhibit

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts launched an immersive, GPS-enabled public art exhibit today that aims to merge the musical and natural worlds.

Ellen Reid SOUNDWALK is a soundscape experience designed by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ellen Reid to enhance the experience of walking through Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

“As winter melts into spring, I find myself at long last filled with optimism,” Reid said. “Re-framing parks musically has been a wonderful challenge, and Wolf Trap is a perfect setting for this piece.”

Guests can access Reid’s music, which was composed specifically for Wolf Trap’s landscape, through a free app that triggers different soundscapes as they move along the mile-long route through the trails and woods around the national park. There are also musical “Easter eggs” hidden around the park for guests to find on their walk.

Performed by musicians in the SOUNDWALK Ensemble, including Reid on a synthesizer, the music changes based on the path and pace that each individual takes, so no two experiences are the same.

Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha says the nonprofit co-commissioned the project to welcome patrons back to Wolf Trap “for their first musical experience in over a year.”

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we wanted to give our community a special opportunity to experience the beauty of music and nature in a safe and socially distanced manner and to re-engage with Wolf Trap as we, with the National Park Service, celebrate the coming of summer,” Manocha said.

SOUNDWALK was also commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and The Mann Center for the Performing Arts in association with The Fairmount Park Conservancy and Britt Festival Orchestra.

Wolf Trap partnered with the National Park Service and Visit Fairfax, Fairfax County’s official tourism organization, for the project and received some local funding from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The installation will be open to the public for free from sunrise to sunset through Sept. 6.

Wolf Trap National Park will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Filene Center this year, but plans for the upcoming summer season have not been announced yet. Live, in-person performances have been on hold since spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though the park has offered some virtual shows throughout the past year.

Photo via Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts/Facebook

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