Poughkeepsie, NY (September 28, 2011)—Tannoy Di 8DC speakers used in an art installation on a bridge recently survived Tropical Storm Irene intact.
When composer Joseph Bertolozzi and sound engineer Ron Kuhnke chose Tannoy Di 8DCs for an outdoor, site-specific art installation on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge, they knew the speakers were going to take some punishment from the elements. In fact, for Bertolozzi, the durability of the Di 8DCs was as important as the sound.
Still, while he knew the speakers would have to function in some fairly nasty weather, he never expected they’d have to stand up to a storm like Irene. “It rains, it gets cold, but we actually take the speakers down from October 31st to April 1st,” he says, “because conditions on the bridge in winter are like being in the North Atlantic.”
Bertolozzi would know. Born in nearby Poughkeepsie, NY, he grew up virtually in the shadow of the bridge. For the Vassar College trained composer and self-taught percussionist, however, the Mid-Hudson is more than just an enduring fixture in his life – it’s also the inspiration for his most unusual composition to date.
First conceived in 2004, Bertolozzi’s ‘Bridge Music’ is composed exclusively from sounds created using a variety of mallets to strike the bridge’s guardrails, girders, spindles and ropes – virtually every possible surface with the exception of the road – essentially transforming the 81-year-old, 3,000-foot span into the world’s largest percussion rig. In all, he recorded some 300 sounds during the process, categorizing them by location, note value and overall character, and recreating the bridge as a virtual instrument.
While listeners can hear the result at his website, http://josephbertolozzi.com/bridge-music-2/ the best place to experience Bertolozzi’s work is in the environment that inspired it, at one of two listening stations located along the bridge’s pedestrian walkway. Installed in June 2009 to mark the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson, the listening stations are placed 1,500-feet apart on the bridge’s two 315-foot high, gothic towers; each featuring a pair of Di 8DCs secured using Tannoy’s K-Ball wall mounts.
When news that Hurricane Irene was headed for the area reached him, Bertolozzi was justifiably concerned. Although Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it blew into the Mid-Hudson Valley on August 28, it still hit hard, submerging parkland on both sides of the river and packing winds up to 50 MPH. After the storm, Bertolozzi expected to find trouble waiting for him on the bridge, but once there, he was pleasantly surprised.
“The speakers hadn’t moved and inch. They still delivered crystal clear sound as if nothing happened. We lost power in the west tower, but when we reset it, the speakers still worked fine. And on the east tower, we didn’t even lose power. You probably could have listened to the music if you were on the bridge hanging on for dear life during the storm.”