Grant Awarded for Sonic Architecture Research Between Venice and Virginia

Composer, Matthew Burtner and Architect, Anselmo Canfora were awarded  a $30,000 research grant for their project, “Sound Cast of San Giorgio Maggiore
: Expressions in Sonic Architecture from Palladio and Jefferson”. The Grant was Presented by the Vice Provost for the Arts at the University of Virginia. The team traveled to Venice to make recordings at select sites.  Sketches and sonifications explored the potential of sonic architecture, work that was presented in Venice and Charlottesville at the VAST Exhibition. The team will continue this work into 2015, culminating in an exhibition of the new piece on Thomas Jefferson’s Lawn at UVA and in Venice.


Project Overview: Situated between culture and nature, buildings respond to interactions with human and environmental energy. Elements of the built environment we associate with permanence actually change dynamically over time. They flex, shift and vibrate. Using special microphones and sensors we can listen to this material interactivity and recognize it as a latent form of musical expression. Like giant acoustic instruments, performed by the environment, buildings sing. This project brings composers, architects, performers and historians together to explore the nuanced spatial ramifications of buildings as musical instruments. While exploring the interrelation between vibration and construction, we will create a new spatio-musical artwork examining phenomenological patterns rooted in the performance of materials. Our resulting artwork, Sound Cast of San Giorgio Maggiore, celebrates a unique connection between the buildings of Charlottesville and Venice through the architecture of Andrea Palladio and his disciple, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, like Palladio, understood sound and architecture as forces connected through harmonies. Just as he understood architecture as instrumental in creating the new nation, so Jefferson understood sound and music as a foundation of culture. As part of a larger exchange between Venice and Charlottesville, we will design a sonic cast of Palladio’s San Giorgio Maggiore and install it on Jefferson’s Lawn. Ancillary music historical research will investigate the music and soundscapes that fascinated both Jefferson and Palladio.

Read more about the project here