The magical wit, radical imagination and generous heart of composer/architect Christopher Janney will resonate through Montclair State University in four ways beginning September 1 with the opening of Janney’s “Everywhere Is the Best Seat,” a sonic/light installation that commandeers the University’s 80 year old Amphitheater through mid-November. For this installation, Christopher Janney, who has a long history of creating sonic and light environments in existing public spaces, was inspired by John Cage’s democratic comment, “Everything you do is music/And everywhere is the best seat.” Commissioned by Peak Performances @ Montclair State, Montclair, NJ , this user-friendly, interactive work, comprised of 36 columns equipped with sensors, invites passersby to create their own sounds and light, thereby giving new, vibrant life to the space. “Everywhere Is the Best Seat” is free, accessible 24 hours a day, every day, and runs through November 14.
A free 60 minute concert, “Disembodied Instruments,” on September 11 at 10pm will integrate the electronic sounds from “Everywhere Is the Best Seat” with live performances by saxophone player Stan Strickland, bass player Wes Wirth and tabla player Jerry Leake, with Eddie Grenga on the electric piano and vocalists Dave Revels and Jimmy Hayes of The Persuasions. Revels and Hayes will move in and out of scat/doo-wop phrases live and delayed within the electronic performance in the Amphitheater.
An exhibition entitled “Architecture of the Air: The Sound and Light Environments of Christopher Janney,” will be on display in the Alexander Kasser Theater lobby, also from September 1 through November 14. Celebrating Janney’s unique fusion of music and architecture, the exhibition features color transparencies of his previous interactive installations including “Rainbow Cove: Red and Green,” “Harmonic Runway,” “Sonic Forest,” “Soundstair” and “Sonic Plaza.” There will also be images of what Janney calls architecture as performance, “A House is a Musical Instrument,” one created in Lexington, MA and the other in Kona, HI.
On October 12 at 7pm, there will be the tri-state debut of “What is a Heart?,” a halfhour documentary chronicling “Heartbeat,” the celebrated performance piece Janney has been exploring and restaging on and off over the last 25 years. He first set the work in 1982 on dancer/choreographer Sara Rudner, then principal with Twyla Tharp Dance. In the late 1990s, Mikhail Baryshnikov asked Janney and Rudner to set it on him for a season at New York City Center and a world tour. In 2008, the American Heart Association underwrote the creation of a new version with New York City Ballet dancer Emily Coates and the a cappella group The Persuasions. The film is directed by Theodore Bogosian. A discussion with Janney will take place in conjunction with the Peak Performances screening.