Essential Pittsburgh
4:46 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Exploring Sonic Sanctuaries On The North Side

City of Asylum, located on the North Side
City of Asylum, located on the North Side
Credit Joseph A / Flickr

Perhaps you’re familiar with the North Side — maybe you’ve lived there, or maybe you just visited the Aviary. Is there any way for someone who’s visited the Pittsburgh neighborhood to see it in a different way?

Susie Ibarra and her partner, Roberto Rodriguez, think so. With help from the City of Asylum, they’ve created a project called “Sanctuaries of Sound," which takes people on a walk through the Garden to Garden trail to several locations, where an original composition will be played upon arrival via a smartphone app.

The couple previously collaborated on a Sanctuaries of Sound project in New York City.

“It was an idea to connect people to nature, music, to a place where perhaps they could go and rest, during their lunch break, just to go and relax, sort of pull them out of that stressful, super hyper and saturated work environment,” said Roberto Rodriguez. “So how do you do it in a situation or a park or a building or a little space they may just have a few minutes? Well, they can sit and turn on their smartphone, which will probably be on it anyway, in other words, rather than be on it texting or doing all of that stuff that we usually do with it, OK, I’m just going to chill out, turn on, and listen to [it].”

Ibarra explained their goal in creating the Sanctuaries of Sound, particularly in their Pittsburgh version.

“There's two concepts here," she said. "One that Roberto and I engaged in the natural world, how do you bring the natural world into the city. Where in New York it was all about the water in Lower Manhattan, here it's all about the Garden to Garden walk. It’s about the gardens. And then also for City of Asylum is about giving people a voice that perhaps didn’t have an opportunity to have that. And that the poets and the poetry in the text are centerpieces [in the project]. They're soloists.”