Looking back and listening to Nasher Sculpture Center’s “Sculpting Sound”

A variety of sounding sculptures are arranged inside a barn on a wooden floor

Sounding sculptures in Harry Bertoia’s barn in Barto, PA.
Photo: Harry Bertoia Foundation

Early last year, the Nasher Sculpture Center, in conjunction with curator and producer David Breskin, played host to something extraordinary: A series of six performances featuring pairs of musicians performing with artist Harry Bertoia’s sounding sculptures.

As fusions of different artistic disciplines go, it was unique among institutions in the city — and the wider world, frankly. At the time, Breskin told KXT it would constitute no less than “aesthetic malpractice” to not record, for posterity, the events of each night’s performance.

Now, just in time for the winter solstice, Pyroclastic Records is unveiling Sculpting Sound, the visual and sonic document of those six Nasher Sculpture Center performances. Each performance will be made available to stream for free and in full at sculptingsound.org, beginning at 9:27 p.m. Central on Dec. 21.

For those who witnessed the event in person, it’s a chance to relive the memories. For those who might have missed out, it’s an opportunity to take in what press materials describe as “visually gorgeous, sonically rich and artistically inventive performances.” Participating artists include Nels Cline, Ben Monder, Ambrose Akinmusire, Nate Wooley, Jen Shyu, Craig Taborn and many more.

The site also offers, alongside the concert films, a 30-minute documentary about the concerts’ staging, historical footage of Bertoia creating the sculptures and footage from 1971 featuring a Bertoia interview. The concert films were captured in early 2022 on-site by Quin Mathews and Daisy Avalos, recorded by Ron Saint Germain and edited by Frank Heath, according to press materials.

“I’m trying to go against the grain a little bit to open up more possibilities,” Breskin told KXT prior to the six-night event. “It’s an interesting experiment that might be amazing, or a very noisy failure, but either way, you have to be open to the possibility.”

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.