"I don't hold onto terms like music and sculpture anymore. Those old distinctions have lost all their meaning."
—Harry Bertoia, 1976
If you haven't made it over there yet, you have until Nov. 29 to see Bent, Cast and Forged: The Jewelry of Harry Bertoia
Music nerds know Bertoia as the guy who made all those cool-looking droning "Sonambient" records with the sounds on them emanating from his own metal sculptures. In commemoration of the centennial of his birth, Cranbrook (where he once studied and taught) hosts the first museum show devoted to his early work in jewelry. The show runs until November 29, and is very lovely.
And music nerds can be totally happy with the purchase of a limited, 11 CD set which comes with a book in a nice box. Important Records always does a bang-up job with their presentation. I'm still kicking myself for not buying that Pauline Oliveros set they did last year. Pre-order it here
Oh, and finally, if you are headed to Chicago anytime soon, you still have a few chances left to see Olivia Block's stunning sound installation which takes sounds from two of Bertoia's sculptures
and spirals them out into a series of 50 loudspeakers. I'm not really sure how it works, but it was definitely the hit of my Chicago-based friends this past weekend, to judge from my Facebook feed.
Right now is a great time to be or become a fan of this important artist, here in the Midwest.
HARRY BERTOIA Complete Sonambient Collection 11CD/Book
The Complete Sonambient Collection features all 11 Sonambient releases newly restored from the original master reels. A heavy duty box holds 11 CDs each packaged in replica sleeves and a 110 page book contains a lengthy historic essay, a Smithsonian interview with Harry Bertoia, exclusive Sonambient era material from the Bertoia archive, photos of the Sonambient barn during Harry's lifetime and updated with many shots of the barn today. Also included are reflections on Bertoia from David Sefton, Tom Welsh, David Harrington (Kronos Quartet) and all three of Bertoia's children
In the late fifties Harry Bertoia began working on long-form improvised compositions by utilizing pure acoustic tones produced using his own metal sound sculptures. Bertoia coined the term Sonambient to desribe the music of his sculptures and the lush overtones they evoked, renovated a barn on his property deep in the PA woods, and often recorded his nightly sessions in the barn using 4 overhead microphones and a 1/4" tape recorder. Bertoia dedicated the last twenty years of his life to his Sonambient work and in 1970 he released the first Sonambient LP. In 1978, in the final months of his life, he selected recordings from his archive and produced 10 more Sonambient records. He would not live long enough to see these records in person.