Four Bridges

Howard Hersh’s “Four Bridges” is a sound installation that was commissioned by the Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California.. It is designed to be heard by listeners over mobile devices as they walk through Montalvo’s woodland environment.

It features children’s choir, instrumental music, readings of poetry, and archival recordings.

The walk, clearly marked by a series of signs, will take you along redwood canyons, through hardwood forests, and into open meadow vistas, before looping back to the starting trailhead; it takes about 26 minutes to complete. You should wear comfortable walking shoes.

Four Bridges’ narrative is inspired by our primal memories of the forest and the mythology that depicts it as an enchanted, mysterious place. It also explores the woods as a metaphor for our common journey and what it means to carry the burden and promises of a shared humanity.

Combining instrumental music, the voices and laughter of a children’s choir, field recordings, audio clips from archival sources, and readings of poetry and prose, Four Bridges intersperses light, airy and playful interludes with sober passages and subject matter.

Some of its most compelling material features the voices of victims of political and religious injustice, which call out from the twisted underbrush, first with poems inscribed by Chinese immigrants on the walls of the Angel Island Detention Center, then in the person of a Japanese-American whose father was interned during the Second World War, and finally in the reminiscences of a Holocaust survivor.

Describing his new work, Hersh writes that “Four Bridges celebrates the beauty, mystery, and magic of the forest. Through its music and texts, I hope to create a sonic portrait of the powerful ties that bind humanity to the forest, and the mythology through which these bonds are expressed. The woods enrich and nurture us with their enduring presence; they are also the eternal observers that absorb and reflect the joys and tragedies of our own complex tales.”

The website below has complete instructions for accessing the sound files, etc.

Since 2018
Hosted by Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA
Website URL
Duration 26 minutes
Location 15400 Montalvo Rd, Saratoga, CA 95070, USA
Location Multiple locations

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