Despite Saturday’s threat of rain and thunderstorms, a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of Bridge Music went ahead as planned in honor of composer Joseph Bertolozzi’s groundbreaking work.
Tara Sullivan, Acting Executive Director of the NYS Bridge Authority, welcomed everyone to the re-dedication ceremony for Bridge Music.
“Bridge Music is a public, sound instillation here at the Mid-Hudson Bridge and is unique, not just in the region, the state or the country, but in the world,” she said. “The project was the brainchild of composer and musician Joseph Bertolozzi and was unveiled during the New York State Quadricentennial in 2009, the big 400th commemoration.”
Sullivan said the Bridge Authority was a proud collaborator with Bertolozzi, “as he recorded sounds on the girders, rockers and railings and then he arranged it into a unique piece of music.”
Sullivan said when the bridge opened in the 1930s it was noted for its “artistic and graceful design. In 2000 the bridge added the popular necklace lights along the main cables, adding to its beauty. Finally, in 2009 Mr. Bertolozzi expanded that artistic legacy by turning this iconic structure into a world renowned work of musical art. Joseph has placed the majestic Mid-Hudson Bridge in the eyes and ears of people around the world; I’m talking about Asia, South America and Europe.” She said the Mid-Hudson Bridge, at 3,000 feet long, is the largest percussion instrument in the world.
Sullivan pointed out that when French authorities heard of Bertolozzi’s “musique de pont,” they invited him to create a similar musical work using sounds from their renowned Eiffel Tower in Paris.
“The bridge Authority is so deeply grateful to you Mr. Bertolozzi that you chose our bridge to receive a voice that’s been so positively represented by your musical talent and philosophy,” she said.
Rick Remsnyder, Director of Ulster County Tourism, recalled that when Bertolozzi came to his office 11 years ago with his idea for Bridge Music, “I said you want to do what and where? Boy that’s a real interesting concept.”
Remsnyder said Bertolozzi’s project has been beneficial to tourism in Ulster and Dutchess Counties and the entire Hudson Valley.
“We view these kinds of projects very favorably and 10 years is a great landmark,” he said.
Mary Kay Vrba, President and CEO of Dutchess Tourism, said arts projects, like Bridge Music, are key factors in attracting visitors to the area.
“Everyone wants to come and have an experience and we have so many unique experiences that people can have here in the Hudson Valley from the arts, from history, from our food, from our landscapes; so we really have it all and there is no reason for anyone to go anywhere else,” she said. “When you look at the bridge, it’s not just a bridge but it is a musical experience. It’s a great thing and very unique.”
Vrba said Bridge Music became a reality, “because of one man’s persistence and one man’s vision and if we didn’t have vision we would perish. We all need to keep looking forward, we all need to keep visioning what we can be and who we are here in the Hudson Valley. We need to continue to think differently and when we welcome folks we need to make sure they know that this is a different place to come to because of who you are and because of the great artists we have in the valley.”
Composer Joseph Bertolozzi said it is incredible to be back at the bridge a decade later and it is, “due to all you people who continue to come and support this music...I have been fortunate that there have been many who wanted Bridge Music to succeed even when it seemed like some kind of alternate reality.”
Bertolozzi thanked the NYS Bridge Authority, the Town of Lloyd, NYS Parks and Recreation, D’Arcangelo & Company Accountants, ProPrint, iHeart Media Inc. of the Hudson Valley, Vassar Temple, the City of Poughkeepsie, Drake Loeb Attorneys at Law, the Dutchess Chamber of Commerce, P&D Electric, Andrea and Paul Simonelli, Gloria Turk, Dr. Walter Engel, Jim and Amy Thrasher and Modjeski & Masters [original designers of the bridge] who all wanted Bridge Music to be successful.
“No one can be successful unless there are others who want you to be successful. I thank all of them and I thank all of you. So lets cut that ribbon and launch the next ten years,” he concluded.
Everyone in attendance received a drum stick they used to join in with the recorded Bridge Music out at the western tower of the Mid Hudson Bridge.
Later in the day a film was shown at Vassar Temple about the evolution of the Bridge Music Project and at 9 a.m., despite the rain, Bridge Music was played as the necklace lights on the bridge pulsed and changed color in honor of the 10 year anniversary.
Chris Steber, Acting Deputy Chief of Staff of the NYS Bridge Authority, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It was a really nice celebration marking ten years of a very unique and noteworthy public art project,” he said. “It’s one of those things you have to actually go there and experience for yourself.”