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SPAC Brings Back Immersive App-based Art Installation ‘Soundwalk’

Composer/sound artist Ellen Reid's installation made will live in the park through June 2022.

Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and sound artist Ellen Reid was co-commissioned by SPAC to create the immersive 'Soundwalk' installation. (Eric Baiano)

Looking to add something a little more environmentally relevant to your afternoon strolls through the Saratoga Spa State Park? The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) today announced that it would be relaunching Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and sound artist Ellen Reid’s Soundwalk installation, an app-based, GPS-enabled work of public art that uses music to illuminate the natural environment in the park. Following the popularity of its initial run last September, Soundwalk, which is free to the public, will return as a year-round installation today and run through June 1, 2022.

An immersive audio experience tailor-made for hiking around the interconnected trails in the park and taking in its natural beauty, Soundwalk was co-commissioned by the arts organization. How does it work? After downloading a free app and putting in your preferred listening device, sound-walkers embark on an expanded route around the park, featuring stops along the Avenue of the Pines, the reflecting pool area, the Vale and Geyser Springs and a number of other places. Movement around the park triggers Ellen Reid’s soundscape—musical cells which she carefully crafted to harmonize with the park’s landscape and attractions. The experience is self-guided, so participants influence what they’re hearing at any given moment, ensuring that no two visits are alike.

“This past fall, our Soundwalk installation was an incredibly popular experience—providing a sense of refuge and solace for our community during the darkest days of the pandemic,” says Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of SPAC. “Now as our city, SPAC and the Saratoga Spa State Park start to come alive for the summer, we are delighted to bring back this experience in an expanded, more permanent way.”

This latest iteration of Soundwalk features a newly-written score, performed by the Soundwalk Ensemble, as well as special musical “Easter eggs” hidden around the park for participants to discover. The new installation features 10 times the amount of composed material as the 2020 installation along with a significantly expanded map. Says Reid about the installation’s encore: “It has been a joy to return to Saratoga Spa State Park to reimagine Soundwalk for this new season. This iteration really allowed us to flex our creative muscles on a much more comprehensive scale—in fact, this updated Soundwalk is multiple times larger than the original installation. I encourage the listener to make repeated visits throughout the year to experience how weather and light, as well as music, can change the character of the landscape and environment. Most of all, I hope people will take a moment away from the bustle of our hyper-connected world to enjoy the beauty of Spa State Park, and to spend some quality time immersed in nature.”

Will Levith

Will Levith is Editorial Director at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living magazine. He's a native Saratogian and graduate of Saratoga Springs High School. His work has been published by Esquire, Playboy, Condé Nast Traveler, Men's Health, RealClearLife and many others. He lives in Troy with his wife, Laura, and dog, Esopus.

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