entertainment

Trumpets to Liven Up Dreary BQE Underpass

Drowning out the blaring traffic sounds emanating from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) with melody, an artistic performance is set to transform a section of the highway next month.

71 Trumpeters will line the space along Meeker Avenue, under the expressway, between Metropolitan Avenue and Newtown Creek as part of an hour-long performance entitled Trumpet City: Brooklyn.

The project is the brainchild of composer and trombonist Craig Shepard, who previously conducted this performance along Park Avenue in Manhattan in early August, in Bern, Switzerland in 2013, and in Zurich, in the same country, as early as 2009.

“This piece calls for a large space and the area under the BQE presented an exciting opportunity to play and listen to the music,” said Shepard. “It’s also one of those places that people just move through as quickly as possible and this invites them to just stop and pause for a second and experience the space.”

The piece requires performers to be positioned about 50 meters apart. This allows each player to hear about four trumpets on each side, and this in turn creates interlocking chains where the performer is a soloist, part of a smaller ensemble, and part of the entire piece.

The piece is divided into four 15-minute segments, and while each performer is working off of the same material they are allowed to perform at their own tempo creating a unique melody each time.

“I would call it music for contemplation,” said Shepard. “It invites people to take time out of their daily routines and experience what’s going on around them.”

Shepard grew up in a house with musicians. All four of his older brothers are performers, but it wasn’t until high school, and a rendition of Bach, that drew him to the field professionally. He studied trombone at Northwestern University, and spent several years living and performing in Switzerland thereafter, before he moved back to New York in 2006.

With his production company, On Foot Productions, Shepard also conducts silent group walks throughout the city, and has used that principle in the past for two of his largest productions On Foot: Brooklyn and On Foot: Switzerland where he walked 780 miles and 250 miles over months long periods and composed new pieces each day which in Brooklyn were performed every Sunday in a public space, and in Switzerland each evening.

The response to Trumpet City has been very enthusiastic so far, according to Shepard.

“One of the best reactions I got was a four-year-old walking up to me who said it sounded like hugs and kisses,” he said.

Trumpet City: Brooklyn, Saturday, September 20, 3-4 p.m., all along Meeker between Metropolitan Avenue and Newtown Creek, for more information visit http://www.onfootproductions.org/trumpetcity.

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