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Zhen Ren Chuan 2021
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Listen as 'Sound on Mystic' flows on

Mystic River logo

Now you can hear the Mystic River as you walk along it for two miles in Arlington and Medford.

"Sound on Mystic" is an outdoor audio installation combining sound art, music, spoken word and ambience into an immersive experience.

Listen through Echoes, a free mobile app that uses GPS data to cue different sounds at various sites. The Mystic River Watershed Association provides it.

After downloading the app, put on a pair of headphones, take a walk within the installation’s extensive boundaries and hear a diverse set of sound works that are all united by the river itself, and its complex legacy as a place of history and nature, community and conflict, labor and recreation.

How do I listen? 

Users can download the free Echoes app through either the Apple or Android app store, and then search for “Sound on Mystic” within the app. We recommend downloading the walk beforehand, rather than streaming it, and closing out other apps on your phone for the best experience.

For more information and download links, go to soundonmystic.com.

When you open the “Sound on Mystic” installation in the Echoes app, it will show a map of the river with areas highlighted in blue. As soon as you enter a highlighted area, sound will automatically begin to play. The installation had its debut May 15. 

Where is it? 

The installation relies on a series of parks and walking paths along both sides of the Mystic River, from the Cradock Bridge in Medford Square to the base of the Mystic Lakes. Listeners can start or end at any point, creating their own routes through the installation. The entire area is highlighted on this map. Public parking is available near the Condon Shell park, and several bus lines intersect with the route at Medford Square, Boston Ave, and High Street. 

Can I listen from anywhere in the world? 

No, the installation can only be experienced on site. This is because the audio creations that make up the installation are designed to interact with or respond to the places where you are hearing them. 

What will I hear? 

The installation includes fourteen newly commissioned works in a variety of styles, created by different artists from around New England. Here are brief descriptions of the artists and their work: 

Oliver Caplan is a conservatory-trained classical music composer, Artistic Director of Juventas New Music Ensemble, and voting member of the Recording Academy. “Watershed” is inspired by daily walks along the Mystic, and like much of his work, by the resiliency of the human spirit and beauty of the natural world. 

Sarah Kanouse is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily in film, performance, and social practice. Together with Nick Brown, a scholar and artist whose research focuses on Indigenous landscapes, and Elizabeth Solomon and Faries Gray, both members of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, she has created an interview-based sound piece called “Native Space” that explores elements of Massachusett history on the Mystic River. 

Derek Hixon, aka Mint Pillow, is a West Medford musician & artist. "Mirror Loop" recycles sounds recorded between Amsell Colebrook Playground and High Street creating a mosaic of contemplative ambient textures. 

Thread Ensemble is the convergence of three unique voices: Abigale Reisman and Rachel Panitch on violins, and Andria Nicodemou on vibraphone and percussion. The sounds in “Two Steps Forward” move between the arhythmic and rhythmic to musically evoke the feelings of taking in the scenes around the Mystic River, and the metronomic feeling within ourselves as we walk. 

Terry Carter is the poet laureate of Medford. "Hard By the Mystic" is a native son’s reflection on the caring, but cautionary relationship the historic African-American community of West Medford has always had with the riverside locale of our neighborhood. 

Billy Wirasnik is a sound designer for film, radio, and interactive media based out of Providence, Rhode Island. “The Turtle” is an experiential audio narrative depicting an interaction between humans and wildlife along the Mystic River. 

Asher Tuil is a sound artist living and working in East Somerville. “Proprietary Landscapes” speaks to his own relationship with the Mystic River -- the process of restoration, and questions of access. 

Joanna Hay is a sound artist, violinist and oral-history-documentary filmmaker. Situated where the Alewife Brook flows into the Mystic River, “Alewife Hearing” explores the history and ecology of the Alewife Brook and the life cycles of the Alewife Herring. 

Charles Shadle is a composer, senior lecturer at MIT, and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. “Catkin” is written for solo obe, inspired by daily walks along the beautiful Mystic River. Oboist Jennifer Montbach is founder and artistic director of Radius Ensemble. 

Wanda Strukus is a producer, curator, artist, and teacher whose practice emphasizes ensemble-building and interdisciplinary exploration. “Canal Song” is an atmospheric soundscape focused on time and memory around the former path of the Middlesex Canal. 

Erin Genia is a multidisciplinary artist, educator and community organizer specializing in Indigenous arts and culture. “Continuity” includes a sonic and conversational engagement with Rock Hill, a site of Native American significance overlooking the Mystic River.

Balla Kouyaté is a djeli and virtuoso player of the balafon, the West African antecedent of the xylophone. “Parkway” combines traditional West African musical elements with found sounds and electronic instruments. 

Jazz Dottin is the host of Black Gems Unearthed, an educational video series about Black History of Massachusetts. “Petition” brings to life the words of Belinda Sutton, who survived the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and worked for the Royall’s estates in Medford. 

Michael Dewberry is a multidisciplinary artist and technical consultant to artists. “Freightways,” which is based around Cradock Bridge, weaves the sonic residue of human systems and infrastructure back into the sounds of the natural environment, all captured onsite or at nearby locations in Medford. 

Sound on Mystic is created by Ian Coss, Dwayne A Johnson and Gary Roberts, with funding from the Medford Arts Council and Arlington Cultural Council, and support from the Mystic River Watershed Association.


Globe, May 13, 2021: Along the Mystic River, an audio installation primes the senses for good things to come
March 16, 2021: 'Wicked hot': Planning gets $10K to aid Mystic watershed
 

 This news announcement was published Monday, May 17, 2021.

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