"Sky Gate" is a new work for ten musicians that honors Isamu Noguchi’s Sky Gate, one of the most prominent works of art on the City and County of Honolulu’s Civic Center. Noguchi spent much of his life designing parks. He created the sculpture for a version of the park he would never see: one where the monkey pod trees had grown for almost 50 years more, reaching out to touch each other with their branches, making the sculpture a literal Sky Gate amongst the shade of the surrounding park. The width and height of the columns mirrors the surrounding trees as they reach up from all directions towards the sculpture. The concrete circular stage below invites people to sit there for lunch or on a break as I did with my father when he worked in Honolulu Hale. The sculpture then not only activates the park, but also us: it activates us to look up, to come together, to be present in the space.
Every May and July, people gather at Sky Gate to observe Lāhainā Noon, also known as kau ka lā i ka lolo (the sun rests upon the brain), a time of great energy when the sun is overhead and the shadow retreats into the body. At this time Sky Gate’s shadow projects a perfect ring and becomes a magnificent spectacle.
My new composition seeks to encourage communities to engage with public spaces in new and innovative ways. By activating the park space with sound, I will provide opportunities for the public to experience and appreciate the sculpture and reclaim the park as a performance space. Working with musicians from Chamber Music Hawaiʻi, I will be recognizing and encouraging local performing artists through their participation.
The musical work is co-commissioned by the City & County of Honolulu Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts and Chamber Music Hawaiʻi with the generous support of NWS BLUE and the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. NWS BLUE projects are made possible with support from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation and NWS’s Fund for New Ventures.
Funded by Oahu, HI (January 2022)