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The sights and sounds of music

Enter Ell Hall from Krentzman Quad, and you’ll hear music echoing throughout the lobby. The same intriguing sounds can be heard while walking down the corridor leading from the Curry Student Center indoor quad.

They’re coming from Gallery 360’s first-of-its-kind sound installation, featuring work by the late Earle Brown, who studied at Northeastern in the 1940s and was a leading composer of the American avant-garde since the 1950s. Running through Feb. 26, the exhibit is the result of a collaboration between Gallery 360 and Northeastern’s Department of Music in the College of Arts, Media and Design.

The show marks the U.S. premiere of Brown’s sound installation Music for Galerie Stadler (1964). Brown originally created the electroacoustic work for an exhibit in Paris in collaboration with artist David Budd and poet William Burroughs. Four tape tracks distinct in content and duration are continuously looped and channeled through four speakers to yield a shifting texture of sound. Linger in the environment long enough and hear rare bits of Brown improvising on trumpet.

Rebecca Kim, a postdoctoral teaching associate in the music department, organized the installation and exhibit with gallery curator Bruce Ployer and Mike Frengel, an academic specialist in the music department. “Gallery 360 has created a space to discover Earle Brown through sound and image, and to experience this environment over and over again in any manner one chooses,” Kim said. “You might walk through the space every week on the way to class, or stop to view a wall of images and notice a counterpoint between two channels while standing directly under two speakers.”

The exhibition features more than 30 photographs and documents from Brown’s career, many of them showcased for the first time. Contributors to the collection comprise the Earle Brown Music Foundation, Lunenburg Historical Society, Northeastern University Archives, the private collections of James Klosty and Carolyn Brown, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra Archives.

The exhibit’s unveiling coincided with “Beyond Notation: An Earle Brown Symposium.” The conference was hosted last month by Northeastern University with support from The Earle Brown Music Foundation and featured talks and concerts at the Fenway Center, Blackman Auditorium, and Calderwood Hall of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

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