Sound Gardens

What is a Sound Garden?

Sound Gardens are site-specific sound + performance installations employing custom spatial speaker sets to create immersive ecosystems of sound that layer and mingle with existing sounds in nature. Each speaker plays a different part of the whole piece of music, so that every step, every turn of the head, every bird song and shifting breeze results in a different mix and arrangement of the music. Sound Gardens typically also feature commissioned site-specific poetry, visual art, storytelling, dance, history, and live performances by the roving Free Range Orchestra & Choir and other performance / performing and dance artists.

Sound Gardens celebrate community-sourced, site-specific content, and often include educational and community outreach programs to bring community members, students, or clients into the creation and performance process. In partnership with local schools, parks, historical societies, libraries, and other arts and community organizations, Sound Garden projects are a unique opportunity for community members to participate across artistic disciplines and learn about site-specific ecology and history.

“My spatial soundscores are designed and intended to provide an immersive experience for the listener that connects them more deeply to a specific place and time in their lives and community.”  – JG Everest, Wavelets Creative Artistic Director

In 2021, Wavelets Creative presents a series of free pop-up installments of composer JG Everest’s Four Seasonal Sound Gardens along West River Parkway in Minneapolis, beginning with the SPRING Sound Garden on Saturday May 8. ( READ A REVIEW HERE) and the SUMMER Sound Garden on July 10 (StarTribune Article HERE) Next Up: WINTER Sound Garden on Saturday January 22 on West River Parkway.
The new site-specific Prairie Woods Sound Garden premiered on Aug 7 2021 at PWELC with live dance and musical accompaniment and live poems and storytelling by Lisa J Yankton.

The Water Suite: Four Seasonal Sound Gardens (2018)

In 2018 Wavelets Creative developed and presented four unique seasonally-inspired sound garden events, one for each season of the year, in four different outdoor locations around the state of Minnesota, premiering composer JG Everest‘s four-part Water Suite: Four Seasonal Sound Gardens. Each site was specifically chosen for its natural beauty, historical significance, and proximity to a significant body of water. The Water Suite was inspired by the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and the ongoing and urgent need to recognize and protect our precious water. Each seasonal Sound Garden also featured commissioned site-specific poetry, visual art, storytelling, dance, history, and live performances by the roving Free Range Orchestra & Choir.  They also included local community members in the creative process through a series of participatory outreach events and workshops for each site and season.


Audience Comments from Pop-Up Sound Gardens on West River Parkway in 2021

“I truly appreciated time walking, listening, breathing and seeing. The beautifully powerful music filled me in a joyful, quiet way.” – Claire

“a perfect antidote to all that ails us in this city.” – anonymous

“It felt magical- otherworldly and floaty. I felt like I was swimming through a sound landscape” – Teresa

“Today was tough for me but visiting your Sound Garden allowed me to witness some peace of mind. Thanks to you and everybody else for that. It felt as though help was on the way. On the way to the site, I walked past various sites of desecration and saw evidence of new growth and healing taking place. I suppose that I am healing too.” – anonymous

“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”. – Helen

“It was very contemplative, interesting. I found my mind wandering in a productive way.  My favorite part was the slowly changing music, that would fade into the background, then become noticeable again, though different.” – anonymous

“I felt calm, senses awake and like life should always be like this” – anonymous

“I felt calm and open, favorite part was the sounds coming from many directions  (also loved having the dancers in the spaces)” – Becky

“I felt peaceful and curious; I liked how the remote speakers provided different sound layers as I walked back and forth” – Anonymous

“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.“ – Beth

“Serene, delighted. My favorite parts were the dancers interacting with trees, the environment, with the subtle live musicians who added just the right amount of texture to the recorded and real life city park sounds.” – Anonymous

“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

“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. Some of 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 suprised by how I sunk into it.” – Jenni


JG Everest’s WATER SUITE premiere events, presented by Wavelets Creative in 2018:

WINTER Sound Garden at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, MN – February 18, 2018

SPRING Sound Garden at Harbor Park in Grand Marais, MN – May 27, 2018

SUMMER Sound Garden at Silverwood Park in St Anthony, MN – July 22, 2018

FALL Sound Garden at Manomin Park / Rice Creek in Fridley, MN – Sept. 30, 2018

Additional Sound Garden events, past and future:
Pop-Up SPRING Sound Garden at West River Parkway Saturday May 8

SPRING Sound Garden at Harbor Park, Grand Marais Saturday & Sunday May 29 & 30
LOLA Sound Garden for Make Music Day, Land O’ Lakes Wisconsin, June 21
Pop-Up SUMMER Sound Garden on West River Parkway, Mpls, Saturday July 10 (click to register)
Pop-Up FALL Sound Garden on West River Parkway, Mpls, Saturday Oct 2
Akiing Fall Sound Garden at Water Protectors Welcome Center, Palisade, MN, Oct 30

iNMiGRATiON: Fall Sound Garden at Riverside Park
(“virtual”), Minneapolis, Oct 10-18, 2020
iNMiGRATiON: Fall Sound Garden open pop-up rehearsals at Riverside Park, Sept 4, 26, & Oct 3, 2020
iNMiGRATiON: Summer Sound Garden open pop-up rehearsals at West River Parkway, Minneapolis, July 23 & Aug 16, 2020
Fall Sound Garden
at Caponi Art Park, Sept 2019
Winter Sound Garden at Golden Bay, Chippewa City, MN Feb 2019
Spring Sound Garden at Belwin Conservancy, Afton, MN April 2019
Summer Sound Garden
at The Wolf House in Minneapolis, MN – July 28, 2018
Oneness Sound Garden
performance at Franconia Sculpture Park Sept 2017

Monarch Magic! Sound Garden at Minneapolis Monarch Festival / Festival de la Monarcha, Sept 2017
Summer Sky Sound Garden at Northern Spark Festival June 2017
MayDay Sound Garden at The Wolf House, Mpls May 2017

Monarch Magic! Sound Garden at Minneapolis Monarch Festival / Festival de la Monarcha, Sept 2016
iNMiGRATiION: Winter Solstice Sound Garden
at The Wolf House, Dec 21 & 22, 2016. 

For more information about Sound Gardens, please visit Artistic Director JG Everest’s website.

This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.