An unusual aspiration is becoming a reality for composer and sound artist Ellen Reid at this year’s Opera Omaha ONE Festival.
“I always had this dream of making a musical playground,” she said. “As you play on the playground, your actions will make music.”
Her desire turned into the aptly named “Playground,” an interactive sound sculpture installation that has been set up in the contemporary wing of Joslyn Art Museum. It’s part of Opera Omaha’s ONE Festival, which features a number of events surrounding the multidisciplinary structure of opera. The festival opened Saturday and runs through April 14.
Reid wanted the installation to explore an important topic concerning the future.
“I feel like we are confronted with questions on what the world will be for our children,” she said, especially concerning climate change.
She collaborated with designer Julia Noulin-Mérat to create “Playground.” All of the elements in the installation that create sound were made from things that cause carbon pollution, Reid said.
“We’re repurposing objects for a more beautiful purpose,” she said.
It’s a mixture of many components: plastic straws, tires, mufflers, tailpipes, wheels, oil drums. When you look at it from afar, Noulin-Mérat said, it looks like a playground, but when you come closer, you realize what all of these elements are.
Each thing is made into an instrument. A tailpipe, for example, is already a chime if you hang it up. When museumgoers navigate the playground, the components create music.
At selected times, musicians from the International Contemporary Ensemble will play the devised instruments to accompany soloist Naomi Louisa O’Connell on “Run,” a 15-minute composition by Reid with words by transgender poet and performance artist Zachary Drucker, a producer for the television show “Transparent.”
Reid said she thinks the installation will speak to a broad range of people because it’s interactive.
“Someone who’s interested in art can take away something different than someone who’s just there, and that’s great,” she said.
The festival also includes CINEsound, an operatic film series at Film Streams; “For Research Only,” a dance exhibition of opera; and a number of other programs. Two operas also are part of it: “Faust” by Charles Gounod and “Les Enfants Terribles” by Philip Glass.
For more information and a calendar of events, including times for “Run” at the “Playground” exhibition, visit operaomaha.org and click on “ONE Festival.”