Sonic Blossom at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I love to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As a New Yorker, I would argue that a Met membership is a valuable investment. (It’s also one of those places you really should go if you are a visitor to the city.) I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy visiting the Cloisters, an annex of the Met, but I visit the main building on Fifth Avenue on a regular basis as well. In future posts, we will explore some of the Met’s exhibits together, but today I want to tell you about an amazing experience I had last Friday when I went to the Met, as I became part of a performance art experience called Sonic Blossom.

I was exploring Gallery 915, part of the Met’s Modern and Contemporary Art collection, when a young woman came up to me and asked, “Can I give you a song?” When I responded, “Yes,” she led me to a chair at one end of the gallery and had me sit. She then walked across the room, turned and looked at me, and began to sing a Schubert lied. It was absolutely beautiful, emotional. I had been through a difficult week, and her song felt like a healing balm to my battered spirit. Other museum visitors began to gather, listening, taking her photograph and recording her performance on their smartphones. I sat still, taking it all in, my eyes connected to hers throughout the song. It was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a true gift–just as she had offered.

I took no pictures during my song, but I later took a few pictures as both my performer and another one sang to other museum visitors. This first one gives you a sense of what it was like to be in that chair, hearing the music wash over you as you held eyes with the performer.

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The performance above took place a couple of hours after my song. I couldn’t help myself–I had to circle back to the exhibit to watch other people having the same experience I had. Here is a photograph of the woman who sang to me (she was singing to the person she picked after me). (Note the paintings behind each performer as well–I definitely recommend this exhibit.)

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So what is Sonic Blossom? It is the creation of artist Lee Mingwei. As the Met’s website explains, Lee Mingwei compares the interactive performances, which took place sporadically over the course of several days, to “the folding and unfolding of a ‘Sonic Blossom.'” The performers were students from the Manhattan School of Music. From firsthand experience, I can say that it is a beautiful performance art piece. It’s exactly the reason why it’s important to explore museum event calendars–you never know what special experiences may be in store for you!

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