Harbors is a collaboration of composers Ellen Fullman (Long String Instrument) and Theresa Wong (cello), which draws inspiration from the soundscapes, stories and atmospheres that manifest around bodies of water that propagate exchange. Structured around the extended harmonics of the open strings of the cello, Wong and Fullman utilize subsets of these tonal areas to create distinct sonic environments within the piece.
Fullman’s Long String Instrument, a stunning installation of over forty strings spanning seventy feet in length, places the performers and audience inside the actual resonating body, trans- forming the architecture itself into the musical instrument. Wong has developed techniques that take the cello beyond tradition into a vocabulary more closely rooted in the sounds of the nat- ural world. She captures material electronically, layering textures amplified throughout the space which form an immersive field where figure and ground are in constant flux.
The piece reveals an orchestration of shifting drones, aberrant melodies and glistening atmos- pheres. Harbors has reverberated many spaces around the world, including: Click Festival, Helsingør, Denmark; Transformer Station, Cleveland; MONA FOMA, Tasmania; Centennial Hall, Sydney Festival; The Lab, San Francisco; and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
An iconic American figure in experimental music, Ellen Fullman is the creator of the long string instru- ment, in which rosin-coated fingers brush across dozens of metallic strings, spanning fifty to over a hun- dred feet in length. Her work has encompassed the study of Just Intonation tuning theory, developing a tablature graphic notation system, experiments with various wire alloys and gauges, and wooden res- onator design and fabrication. In 2020 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Theresa Wong is a composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Her works include The Unlearning (Tzadik), 21 songs for violin, cello and 2 voices inspired by Goya’s Disasters of War etchings, O Sleep, an improvised opera for an eight-member ensemble exploring the conundrum of sleep and dream life and Venice Is A Fish, a collection of solo songs. She currently works and resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Harbors was inspired by the foggy San Francisco bay during our residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts. Special thanks to all of the curators and producers who presented this work as we developed it through performance: Georg Rasmussen, Click Festival, Elsinore, Denmark (2015); Tom Welsh, Cleveland Museum of Art, Transformer Station (2015); Dena Beard, The Lab, San Francisco (2016); Shelly De Vito and James Porter, Les Moulins de Paillard, Poncé-sur-le-Loir (2016); Wendy Coutau and
Anny Serrati, Dampfzentral, Bern, and ARCOOP, Geneva (2016); Kerry O’Brien, Nief-Norf Summer Festival, Knoxville (2017); Lawrence English, Australia tour, Sydney Festival, MONA FOMA, and The Substation Melbourne (2017). Special thanks to Perrin Meyer and Meyer Sound for the loan of a sound system for our recording session in Berkeley (2018).