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Ornithology Premieres: this nest, swift passerine

I often work with field recordings, but i don’t often work with chamber orchestras.  I make recordings of rivers, trains, farms, cows, trees, wind, fog horns, church bells, traffic noise, and coffee shops.  These mundane things yield the most rigorous and beautiful sounds that I use in installations, and compositions. 

When asked to work on a piece for wild Up, I jumped at the chance to use this recording of birds that i took last year in northern California.  I was at a dairy farm, and found was this giant oak filled with tiny birds all chirping.  Baby cows were waking up and rattling around their pen, interrupting the recording with huffs and such. I created a speaker system embedded in bird houses to play these sounds and install them in the space as an environmental installation. The ensemble, playing within the soundscape of birds, acts to put a frame around the everyday or mundane sounds.  They help us listen in a more critical and musical way. The instrumental material comes from harmonium improvisations made for the piece.  Here is an early one made last May: 

sketch for “Ornithology Project” — wild Up by ckallmyer

The title of the work comes from Dan Beachy-Quick’s poem of the same name: this nest, swift passerine. Beachy-Quick’s work is beautiful, and I like the sounds of the words together.  Also, the birds in that oak tree were probably of the passerine genus of birds. Nests imply inhabiting, and it is with our habitation that we share a time in a space listening in humble contemplation. Hope to see you on saturday! 

Chris Kallmyer is a performer, composer, and sound artist living in Los Angeles, CA who works in sound installation, composition, trumpet, and electronic music. He has presented work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, the Hammer Museumthe Getty Center REDCATMachine Project, the Goldwell Open Air Museum, and other spaces in America and Europe. His work is influenced by a sense of place, architecture, field recordings, and outdoor listening.

Chris is the Curator of Sound Programming for Machine Project, is a member of wild Up, and earned his MFA in music from the California Institute of the Arts where he studied with Thomas StevensVinny GoliaWadada Leo Smith, and Edward Carroll. He holds a BA in trumpet performance from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

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