Crowdsourced symphony debuts in Akron

arts / Article

A year ago, the Akron Symphony launched the Knight-funded Sounds of Akron project, where it gathered recordings from the public to create a new symphony for the city, one of the first crowdsourced symphonies in the U.S. Here, composer Clint Needham writes about the project, which debuts April 16.

We are less than a week away from the premiere of the symphony that we wrote in concert with the people of Akron. I am putting the finishing touches on the score, and preparing to hand over the reins to our esteemed maestro, Christopher Wilkins. The orchestra members, who have been hard at work individually for some time now, will come together this week to finally learn what, exactly, Akron sounds like.

For six months, the sounds came pouring in.

In some cases, we came to you. We cheered the runners and recorded footsteps at the Akron Marathon. We got a behind-the-scenes tour of the Akron Zoo, and recorded feeding time. We climbed aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, toured the city riding shotgun in former deputy mayor Dave Lieberth’s car, and stared in awe at the size of the blimp hanger, all with microphone in hand.

But in most cases, you came to us. And what started out in my mind as a city soundscape has turned into a much more meaningful work for me, full of emotion and heart.  The city is the people!  The joyous laughter of children, the songs of the gospel choir, the beautiful chaos of a crowded restaurant on the weekend… those are the sounds that stuck with me. You can listen to them on our site, soundsofakron.com.

When composing this piece, I strove to create a beautiful representation of the city, and also to make those sounds – the CVSR train, nature sounds from the National Park, and your original songs – stand out, for you to recognize and to celebrate. Thank you for sharing your lives with me, Akron.  I can’t wait to see you on Saturday.

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