chamber music contemporary music portland

landscape and dance: the halprin collaboration

pettygrove park
Pettygrove Park

Tuesday morning Heather and I went to Pettygrove Park, and small urban oasis set in a 70’s urban renewal zone largely characterized by monolithic, concrete apartment blocks.  It is one of three plazas in the area designed by renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin, along with the Keller Fountain (formerly the Forecourt Fountain) and the Lovejoy Fountain.  We went there, instruments in hand, to check out the acoustics of the site for a planned installation of music and dance for the 2008 PICA TBA Festival (Festival of Time-Based Art).

testing park acoustics
GeorgeAnne, Heather, Joe and Ron test the acoustics of the park.

Here’s more info about the project:

In 1971, Portland christened a new urban park that New York Times architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable heralded as “the most important urban space since the Renaissance.” Called Forecourt Fountain (later renamed Keller Fountain), it was part of a sequence of Portland plazas that combined water, sculptural form, and public space in ways never before tried in a city—or in the field of landscape architecture. Yet the plazas were merely one outgrowth of the daring experiments in movement, sound, and space being conducted by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin; his wife, the legendary choreographer Anna Halprin; and radical musical composers such as Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnick.

Third Angle New Music Ensemble, the Northwest’s premier presenter of contemporary music, along with a quartet of Portland’s most accomplished choreographers, will celebrate the plazas and the artistic milieu from which they emerged. As the second in its series of “Frozen Music” performances sited in landmark works of architecture, Third Angle will play some of the early forms of Minimalist music pioneered by the composers in the Halprins’ circle. In consort, the choreographers will explore Anna Halprin’s philosophy and her intense blend of movement with social and personal consciousness often cited as the beginning of postmodernism in dance.

“We were trying to invent new languages of dance, music, and architecture,” Lawrence Halprin recalls of the time. So, too, will City Dance attempt a new kind of celebration of architectural and creative heritage.

City Dance is Oregon’s 2008 American Masterpieces project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, and the Oregon Arts Commission, along with the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Portland Development Commission, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Czopek & Erdenberger, TVA Architects, the Architecture Foundation of Oregon.

joe in pettygrove park
The urban backdrop to the park.

It should be a fascinating project to be involved with, and I’ll write about my experiences as rehearsals get underway in late August/September.

By Charles Noble

I'm the Assistant principal violist of the Oregon Symphony.

One reply on “landscape and dance: the halprin collaboration”

I moved into a home in Atherton California in November of 2007.
We found the original blueprints from the Architec and the Landscape designer. The blue prints for the garden were produced by Lawrence Halprin in 1951. I feel very fortunate. We will make it a mission to visit all of his work. Found your artical while doing internet research on Lawrence.

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