Four Seasonal Sound Gardens on West River Parkway

In 2021-22, Wavelets Creative presented all four parts of composer / director JG Everest’s
Water Suite: Four Seasonal Sound Gardens as free ‘pop-up’ events on a 2-acre wooded green space along West River Parkway in South Minneapolis. (scroll down for photo galleries from each event and audience comments)

What is a Sound Garden? A short interview with composer JG Everest

The “POP-UP” Water Suite in 2021: Four Seasonal Sound Gardens in MPLS

in 2021-22, Wavelets Creative presented composer JG Everest’s entire four-part Water Suite: Four Seasonal Sound Gardens in a series of free outdoor, self-guided “pop-up” events along West River Parkway in Minneapolis beginning with the “SPRING Sound Garden” on Saturday May 8, 2021, then followed with Summer in July, Fall in October, and Winter in February.  Each Sound Garden event featured a temporary sound installation of 50+ small, battery-powered remote speakers distributed throughout the park, each playing a different part of the larger piece of music, creating a multi-layered, immersive experience. The sound installation was then accompanied by live roving musicians and dancers, with site-specific poetry and visual art elements embedded throughout the outdoor installation. The site-specific movement scores were collaboratively designed by dancers Leslie O’Neill, Erika Hansen, Sarah Baumert, and Megan Mayer along with JG Everest, and were subtly layered into the experience both near and far.  In addition to the dancers, members of the Free Range Orchestra & Choir ensemble roamed through the outdoor space, accompanying the installation soundscore live, adding additional spatial and spontaneous elements to the experience. For the Winter Sound Garden, the brilliant Supergroup performed a parallel score as the Ribbon Dept.

These seasonal Sound Garden events are designed as durational, self-guided experiences intended for audience to connect more meaningfully to a particular place and the natural world.  The spatial sound score and live dance and musical elements are meant to accompany the sounds and physical elements that are already there – the birds, the trees, the wind, the leaves. Audiences are encouraged to both circulate and linger, at their own pace, following their own impulses for what to pay attention to.  The immersive, multi-layered experience is intentionally designed without any fixed focal points, instead inviting participants and audience alike to allow moments to unfold in their own personal way – noticing a particular bird call or a branch, a perspective or a memory – things that may have been previously overlooked or hidden, covered up or forgotten.  Attendees can stay for as little or as long as they like, but these sound scores and events are designed as a 2-3 hour experience. The more time spent in the sound garden, the more deeply its effects are felt, and the more its subtle elements come to light.

The Water Suite’s four parts first premiered in 2018, at four different outdoor locations around Minnesota.  Each seasonal Sound Garden in the Water Suite was composed for one of the four seasons, and for a specific site that was on or adjacent to a significant body of water.  In response to the pandemic and limitations on live performance venues and gatherings in 2021, Wavelets Creative is re-mounting all four parts of the Water Suite along West River Parkway in Minneapolis as free, distanced, “pop-up” events that require advance reservations in order for audience to receive exact location and other important details about each event, and in order to maintain capacity limits and to support the larger intentions of the work.

“Pop-up” SOUND GARDENS SCHEDULE on West River Parkway in 2021-22:


This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and from the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Creative Support for Individuals Grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Some Comments from attendees at Sound Gardens on West River Parkway:

“I felt very consoled. The music was hauntingly lovely and encouraged me to be still and attentive:  look up into the trees; watch the dancers in the distance; connect with the remembrance of our mothers;  ponder the poetry. The live music was an unanticipated delight. I especially resonated with the quiet rhythmic drumming”

“Mesmerized by the variety of music and the joy of the dancing….so relaxing. My favorite part was the freedom and relaxed pace and the unfolding of care, appreciation of the trees, the beautiful bench. Even now it is difficult to describe but I would certainly recommend it to others.” – Judy

“It was magical. I didn’t know where the sound was coming from. I liked that there were created forest structural elements. It felt like a visceral experience. Really like I was enveloped within a different world. When you moved through the Sound Garden the sound changed- you would have different aural experiences. Even if you were sitting in one place, people would bring the sounds near or away from you and it was layered.“

“I came from burying a dear friend, saying goodbye was rough and walking into this not knowing it would be here, wow, what a gift.”

“I had no idea how much I needed this.”

“Thank you. I am exhausted from the past year. This helped.”

“Initially I felt a bit self conscious, but once I relaxed and embraced the experience, it was wonderful. After I left, a sense of peacefulness embraced me.”

“I had calm, watery eyes but not crying eyes. My favorite part was hearing music from all directions; stopping and closing my eyes. I was surprised by how “good” I felt  deep inside; how grateful.” – Kathleen

“I felt calm, soft, inspired, touched, moved, entertained, curious, open. It was like experiencing reality after a couple of days doing sitting meditation. A surprise. A slowing down, savoring, even noticing the traffic, bicyclists differently. Hard to pick a favorite part – Gazing at the tree branches & buds while listening to the music. Noticing how the roving musicians and the music from the boxes were never in dissonance (were they all in the same key? How did they do that?!). Standing next to chimes that were still and just as I began to move away a very slight and gentle breeze moved the dingy thing around the chimes and made a sweet, subtle sound. The poems. The visual delight of the dancers in their spring green and spring energy movement. I didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised that after the first 2 moments of quietly being with the sounds, the green buds, the fresh air, I quickly descended into another zone of being settled and present.“ – Elizabeth

“This is an innovative way of using space! I am more peaceful now. Thank you for the vibes!” – Dex

“I felt present and safe and cozy and at peace. Favorite part was reading all of the poems and taking solo space. I was surprised by how I sunk into it.” – Jenni

“An amazing experience. Peaceful, free, connecting with nature and other people.” – Chris

“It was amazing to be in the rain and to walk around the changing soundscape. the saxophonist/flutist in the north seemed most dialed in to the music. I loved what he contributed. I also loved Dosh on the cymbals. But the overall effect of sound in space with leaves and traffic and rain was transcendent. Thrilled to be in a space where listening is prized.” – Nathan

I felt Relaxed and enchanted by the combination of the garden and the weather. Favorite part was the interaction of the breeze, the falling leaves and the light with the music and the sounds emanating from the felt pods, the birdhouse etc.” – Ewart

I felt peace and confusion and joy and winter chills. I found the invitation to slow down SO important, and I felt invited to be a bit silly too. I laid on a bench and looked at the sky upside down. I dove into the experience, knowing that I was an active participant. Thank you for that guidance. And I loved also encountering poetry on the trees. Magical!” – Jack

“I felt slowed down. Dazzled. Peaceful. Mesmerized. Bigger. Grounded.” – Anonymous

Wow. it was magical. it felt… meditative, immersive, enveloping. I loved listening, standing in different places, the sounds merging together, footsteps scrunching in the snow, wheels smooshing by on the parkway, it all just flowed together. And the ribbon crew! I thought they were a real road crew happening by, curious, and then… they were part of it. That was very cool. I loved their graceful gesturing, so beautiful, and how the ribbons unfurled and then hummed, strummed by the wind.” – Virginia


POP-UP SPRING SOUND GARDEN event photo gallery (May 8, 2021)

Pop-Up SUMMER SOUND GARDEN event photo gallery (July 10, 2021)

Pop-up FALL SOUND GARDEN event photo gallery (Oct 2, 2021)

Pop up Winter Sound Garden photo gallery

Photo from April 2020 on the West River Parkway site