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"Cantata for a Loop Trail" for Rhymes With Opera

Erik Spangler will be collaborating with the ensemble Rhymes With Opera to create a 35-minute music theater work for singers and instrumentalists along a forest trail. In his role as Guide, he will escort small groups of audience members to different stations along the path, blending intimate proximity to performers along with the experience of voices and instruments heard from a distance. His own texts, along with those of poet Wendell Berry, the Roman Code of Justinian, along with adaptations of several Appalachian folk songs, frame the work as a type of secular ecological Mass.

This work is intended to connect audiences with a natural environment close to home, and with memories of older generations regarding changes that the land has undergone. Each performance will have site-specific audio components, derived from recorded interviews with local people and samples of environmental sounds found in the area of the performance. In each location where the work is performed, Spangler will work with local students to record the spoken accounts of their elders in the community, relating to changes in the landscape, local sounds, and what their home area means to them. Using portable audio recorders, the youth participants will also seek out and record sounds that are unique to their area. He will integrate these audio contributions, which will be played back on hidden boomboxes placed in the foliage along the loop trail.

Rhymes With Opera will present the premiere of "Cantata For A Loop Trail" on the Norman Reeves Trail at Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park in Baltimore, Maryland, during the afternoon of June 21, 2014. On June 22, the work will be presented at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. Five performances are proposed for each day at 9:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 3:00 PM. The performance will be free, with 20 tickets available for each performance.

Funded by Baltimore, MD (November 2013)