Eli Keszler & So Percussion: Making The Manhattan Bridge Roar And Sing Watch an installation artist and a percussion quartet make music of the city, by the city and for the city. The world premiere of their outdoor work uses piano wires strung to the Manhattan Bridge.

Field Recordings

Eli Keszler & So Percussion: Making The Manhattan Bridge Roar And SingQ2

There is magic in pure sound. And few know that truth as well as the quartet called So Percussion and the installation artist and drummer Eli Keszler — artists who, before this spring, had never met. We thought that they might find kindred spirits in each other.

So as a matter of artistic matchmaking, we at NPR Music decided to invite them to meet and collaborate on a new work that would have its world premiere at Make Music New York, the annual summer-greeting festival of free outdoor concerts across the city. And along the way to creating a world premiere, they brought a New York landmark in as a sixth instrumental partner: the Manhattan Bridge. They named their piece Archway.

Twelve hours before the performance, the 6:30 AM installation of Keszler's piano wires, motors and processors was witnessed by only a few hardy souls. Using a scissor lift, Keszler and an assistant began the long process of fastening wires attached to two large weighted boxes to the tops of lampposts near the DUMBO Archway beneath the bridge. More wires stretched from one of the lampposts up to the Manhattan Bridge itself.

By mid-afternoon, however, the archway area began filling up not just with curious passerby who stopped for a closer look at the atypical goings-on, but audience members who arrived hours early to observe the work of So Percussion as well as Keszler and his assistants carefully calibrating and tuning the installation.

By the time that their performance rolled around at 6:30 PM, Keszler and So Percussion created fascinating layers of sound. The shimmering, nearly melodic lines produced by bowing small cymbals called crotales offset sharply articulated snare drums and the grunting roars, squonks and groans of the piano wire installation. It was urbane and thoroughly urban music for a signature city setting.


Eli Keszler, installation & percussion

So Percussion: Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting


Producers: Mito Habe-Evans and Anastasia Tsioulcas; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Event Coordinator: Saidah Blount; Videographers: Parker Miles Blohm, Hannis Brown, Mito Habe-Evans, Kim Nowacki and AJ Wilhelm; Editor: Mito Habe-Evans; Special Thanks: Make Music New York, DUMBO Improvement District, New York City DOT, PAN_ACT Festival and Q2 Music; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Classical

Gurtman and Murtha Artist Management

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

Hear "America's First Lady of the Piano" explore the boundaries between classical music and jazz with host Marian McPartland in this 2004 episode.

Ruth Laredo On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/562620476/562624249" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dancers in "Stalactites," a video by Mark DeChiazza, based on Orpheus Unsung, a theater work composed by Steven Mackey, with Jason Treuting. Mark DeChiazza hide caption

toggle caption Mark DeChiazza

Orpheus Reborn With Dancers, Drums And Electric Guitar

A new video, featuring a score by Steven Mackey with Jason Treuting, retells the ancient tale of love, loss and the power of music.

Penguin Cafe performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 2, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Penguin Cafe

Penguin Cafe folds in sounds from around the world and throughout music history — Africa, Kraftwerk, Brazil and Franz Schubert.

Composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir revised her piece Aura especially for The Los Angeles Percussion Quartet. David Holechek hide caption

toggle caption David Holechek

Anna Thorvaldsdottir's Volcanic Transmissions

As members of the Los Angeles Percussion Quartet bow their vibraphones, brush their gongs and message their bass drums, the composer's evocative music oozes from blackness.

Back To Top