THE BUZZ: Organic Music

By on September 22, 2015
Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay dreamt up site-specific music for Rendezvous Park to be unveiled Friday during both day and evening walking tours.

Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay dreamt up site-specific music for Rendezvous Park to be unveiled Friday during both day and evening walking tours.

Soundscape project engenders multi-sensory experience at Rendezvous Park

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – A new music application will redefine a walk through Rendezvous Park with a soundscape project similar to ones in New York City’s Central Park and on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The site-specific music, composed by hipster brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay, weaves original sounds from R Park into the fabric of the old gravel pit. The pit was transformed into a community park through a private partnership a year ago this week. The free iOS app takes you from one end of the 40-acre park to the other with the help of the GPS capability on smartphones. It is called “Site: R Park.”

The Holladay brothers will launch the app, co-sponsored by the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the Center of Wonder, with walking tours this weekend. Tours begin after school Friday at 4, 4:30 and 5 p.m. and continue under the night sky Friday at 9 p.m. in conjunction with Wyoming Stargazing, and on Saturday morning at 10, 10:30 and 11 a.m. The tours are being billed as the “Wild Music” portion of the Jackson Hole Film Festival’s WILD Festival, a week’s worth of public film festival screenings and speakers inspired by the natural world.

The Holladay brothers, whose “location aware” music was featured at TEDxJacksonHole last year, have made a name for themselves by creating music inspired by place. When they first came to Jackson from Los Angeles they were blown away by the scale and beauty.

They considered installations at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks but settled on a very different footprint: a community park that invites people to swim in ponds, walk along trails and play in public spaces accessible by bikers. And while they scaled back the project with the park instead of a national park, they discovered a new challenge in defining R Park. They even encountered a grizzly bear, a black bear, elk and moose during their site visits.

“R Park sort of exists as a direct contrast to the natural beauty that surrounds it,” Ryan Holladay said. “It is a manmade, landscaped park surrounded by wild terrain that is largely untouched by people. I don’t mean that in any dismissive way – I love landscape architecture and the challenges that come with creating a space that must carefully consider the needs and the movement of visitors. So I think what struck us was how this sort of felt like a wonderful little cocoon within the city of Jackson that is very thoughtfully planned out.”

The brothers became enthusiastic about R Park because it is centrally located and accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds, said R Park’s development and communications director Elisabeth Rohrbach. Its location, on the left bank of the Snake River Bridge, is prime for local camps, school groups and the more than 1,000 neighbors who came to its opening celebration last year.

“It was inspiring to observe the Holladay brothers tour R Park and view it with musical awareness,” Rohrback said. “They translated the landscape into an aural experience that will offer visitors a unique adventure to embark upon.”

The music is “less sweeping or cinematic than we would create for a place like Yellowstone because this felt like a place that was carefully designed and we thought the music should reflect that,” Holladay said. “I think so much of the music that people make, or the art that people make for that matter, is inspired by nature, which is why it feels so rejuvenating to spend time in a place like Wyoming. It feels like you’re activating an area of your brain that’s atrophied somewhat as a result of our modern ways of life.”

Research shows that music, like nature, accesses unique pathways in the brain. And while professional athletes and nature lovers have been curating their own soundscapes for decades with headphones, the Holladay brothers bring a new level of sophistication to the age old concept of exploring music in nature.

“The app is an incredibly contemporary example of a public art installation inspired by nature,” said Lisa Samford, the executive director of the Jackson Hole WIldlife Film Festival. “It really enhances how people interact with the environment around them and nature through the universal language of music.

“We are hoping the app will inspire other artists and performers to engage,” Samford said, adding that this could be the first of many music installations to come. PJH

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