The Cornell ReSounds Project

Elizabeth Ogonek & Xak Bjerken, directors


Cornell ReSounds aims to establish Cornell as a center for the design and creation of new musical instruments and a hub for Cornell’s creative artists – a dialogue between the future of instrument-building and collaborative artistic creation.  Looking at tradition and past inventions as a way forward, Cornell’s technologists, engineers, and instrument builders will work alongside performers and composers to create a body of site-specific work for these instruments, documented in a series of video performances and digitally released to the public.  This archive of instruments and recorded works will bring visibility to Cornell as a hub for innovative collaborations among technicians, engineers, musicians, dancers, poets and other artists.  Cornell ReSounds not only encourages shared paths forward for our students, but it invites high profile opportunities for international collaboration and provides them with a profile of increased breadth and depth for engaging with hands-on music-making as they enter the job market.

Since the mid-20th century, composers have been stretching the technical limits of instrumental practice to discover new sounds, many of which are, today, common practice. But what if the techniques used to create these sounds, which are often physically awkward or risk damage to high quality instruments, were made substantially easier? What if acoustic instruments were designed with natural spaces, like our gorges, in mind? What if materials and natural processes specific to our region were at the heart of music-making? What possibilities would suddenly be available to the performer, composer and listener and how would that shape the future of 21st century music?   


Picture of Ogonek and Bjerken in front of Lincoln Hall



The Cornell ReSounds project is funded by a New Frontier Grant awarded by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Cornell Council for the Arts, as well as a Humanities Impact Grant, funded by the office for the Vice President for Research and Innovation.  Our deep gratitude goes to all our collaborators in the ReSounds Festival, as well as a spectacular team:  Laurel Gilmer, Jamie Slater, Andrew Zhou, Richard Valitutto, Thomas Feng, Ryan McCullough, Karen Rodriguez, Josh Biggs, and John Eagle.  Thanks to the artist Nancy Mooslin for allowing us to reproduce her beautiful work, and to our hosts at the various venues: Gemma Rodrigues at the Johnson Museum of Art, Caroline O’Donnell in AAP, Erik Gray in Klarman Hall, and Tyler Lurie-Spicer at the A.D. White House.