Imagine a man with mallets striking the suspension ropes, the metal plates, the rails and grates on a bridge. Imagine the attendant sounds as cars whoosh across the bridge and rain pelts the steel cables. Joseph Bertolozzi is at work as I write this. He is recording the sounds he can derive from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Bridge so he can replay them and create a 45-60-minute suite called “Bridge Music,” which will have its inaugural performance next year. An orchestra of percussionists will, in effect, play the bridge. I love this image and I love that it’s not imaginary.
An esteemed composer and Grammy winner, Bertolozzi makes his living as an organist. “I only play big instruments,” he says. His initial idea, actually his wife’s, was to play the Eiffel Tower. The civic leaders of Poughskeepie, at first skeptical—they in fact “wondered whether he had his head screwed on straight”—are now besotted, won over by a performance of a preliminary composition called “Bridge Funk.” (This piece is available through http.//www.josephbertolozzi.com).
“Bridge Music” in performance will celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s trip down the river Walt Whitman called “the lordly Hudson.”—Maureen