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World-renowned performance group will turn Baker's atrium into an instrument
MASS ensemble to perform for Grand Opening Celebration

Feb. 6, 2007
By Anna Marie Finley

On Saturday, Feb. 10, Baker University Center will host the world-renowned performing ensemble MASS (Music, Architecture, Sonic, Sculpture) as part of the Grand Opening Celebration.

The Earth Harp stretched over a valley. Photos courtesy of the MASS ensembleWith the help of the Baker Center staff, the MASS ensemble will adapt Baker's atrium into a stage for the performers and large-scale instruments, such as the drum orb and the Earth Harp. The group will perform fifteen-minute mini-shows at 10:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to give the audience a taste of what they can expect for the full-length feature show at 5:30 p.m.

Not only will Ohio University students and faculty witness an innovative and unique type of performance, but the Baker Center will join the ranks of venues such as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Carnegie Melon Science Center, that have been transformed from stage to instrument by the Earth Harp. 

The Earth Harp is adaptable to any space by stringing it from the architecture of a building to the floor or ground, done both inside and outside. For the celebration in Baker, the harp will be strung from the second floor, facing the escalators, to the ceiling of the building on the fifth floor.

The genius behind the MASS ensemble is Artistic Director and Founder Bill Close, who studied sculpture and sound design at the Art Institute of Chicago, and began creating small sonic sculptures that became musical instruments used by the group's musicians. Close's instruments, which range from three inches to 1,100 feet, weave architecture, science and music to immerse audiences into performances, blurring the line between audience and performer through the interactive aspect of the Earth Harp. 

The Earth Harp is the largest stringed instrument in the world, and received its name when it was strung across a valley in 1999. Since then, it has been strung in places ranging from the World Financial Center in New York to a mountain peak in the Santa Monica Mountain Range. Close's inspiration clearly lies in nature and architecture and the vision of the close relationship between music and our environment, both architectural and natural, are reflected in the design and execution. 

You're invited

All are invited to attend the daylong Grand Opening Celebration of Baker University Center, which will kick off with a giant ribbon-cutting ceremony and dedication at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, outside the Park Place entrance of Baker on the fourth floor. Activities will follow, including the MASS ensemble's full-length feature show at 5:30 p.m.

For a full schedule of events, please visit www.ohio.edu/center/events/.

The sound that the harp creates, with different points on the length of the string creating a specific note, is not limited to classical music, but can produce a variety of compositions. 

Gretchen Stephens, from the Office of University Events, was the connection to the group, having known Close's work for about four years. 

"I think students are going to be in for a surprise; there's a rock and roll part to it," Stephens said. "This seemed the most appropriate time to give them [MASS] the best exposure. They want to share what they've done."

Classes from the College of Fine Arts and several design and lighting classes have been invited, along with anyone who is interested, to watch a pre-show forty-five minute demonstration and discussion by Close offered on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and Friday at 11 a.m.

The architecturally rich design of the university center combined with the celebration of this historical event will provide an exciting backdrop for the MASS ensemble to showcase their artistic innovations. 

Anna Marie Finley is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.


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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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