The Shed has announced Sonic Sphere will make its New York premiere suspended in The Shed’s McCourt. Sonic Sphere is an architectural space featuring immersive 3D sound and light explorations of music.
Sonic Sphere runs 9 June through 7 July, with multiple programmes offered throughout the day. The listening platform is entered via three flights of stairs or an accessible lift.
The 65ft-diameter spherical concert hall is suspended in midair in The Shed’s 115ft-tall McCourt space. Sonic Sphere is being created by Ed Cooke, Merijn Royaards and Nicholas Christie, and the broader Sonic Sphere community including lighting designer Polina Zakh. Sonic Sphere is based on an idea initially proposed by composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. The artist curation for Sonic Sphere at The Shed is led by Alex Poots.
Inside the sphere, an audience of 250 people congregates in specially designed seating and a netted area in the centre to experience music as a spatialised soundscape created by more than 100 speakers that move sound above, below, through and around their bodies. Dynamic lighting on the sphere’s surface completes the hyperreal, multisensory journey.
Multiple 45-minute live and recorded sets will be offered each day. These include listening sessions and complete recorded albums featuring bespoke remixes of The xx’s self-titled debut album and composer Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians; a playlist tracing one branch of electronic music’s family tree by techno artist, DJ and producer Carl Craig; and a never-before-heard compilation by musician, singer, DJ and producer Yaeji. There will also be live performances by electronic music producer, drummer, artist and activist Madame Gandhi; singer-songwriter-producer yunè pinku; Jersey Club Queen DJ and producer UNIIQU3; and pianist Igor Levit performing Morton Feldman’s Palais de Mari in collaboration with visual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija who is creating a visual counterpoint for Levit’s performances.
The Sonic Sphere team works through rapid iteration. The version at The Shed is the 11th and most advanced Sphere so far, after iterations of increasing size and technical sophistication, beginning at Chateau du Feÿ’s creative commune, and appearing since in London, Mexico, at Black Rock City, and in Miami.
“As a teenager I had read in an obscure book of Stockhausen’s Kugelauditorium, which appeared at the 1970 World Expo Osaka fair, alongside the first mobile phone,” said Ed Cooke, Sonic Sphere co-founder. “It was obviously a ridiculously cool idea, far more interesting and important than the phone. In the decades that followed, I became increasingly confused that since 1970 our society had created 15 billion mobile phones but no further spherical concert halls. The Sonic Sphere project aims to re-prioritise shared real-world experience and to make the outer horizons of consciousness accessible to all, in the name of new modes of perception and action for a world that requires them.”
“In a visually orientated age, Sonic Sphere centres the wonder of sound and music in an interdisciplinary experience,” said Alex Poots, artistic director of The Shed. “The creative invention and sheer ambition of Sonic Sphere offers such a range of possibilities to explore for years to come.”
This year’s Mirror Ball celebrates the opening of Sonic Sphere on 8 June at The Shed. The party will include performances by Music for Heart and Breath Trio and Merijn Royaards (Sonic Sphere’s creative director), as well as a new mix by Yaeji and a live set by Madame Gandhi. The benefit will support The Shed’s future productions.