Give peace a chance MLK celebration features sound art, music
Can you name that tune in 10 notes? Ranaga Farbiarz thinks you can.
Farbiarz specializes in sound art, sculpture that makes music -- he made the giant wind chime that hangs on the west side of Highway 23 South at the city limits.
For the local Martin Luther King Day observance on Sunday, Farbiarz made a 10-piece portable sound sculpture out of automobile hubcaps, each hubcap with seven chimes. Each set of chimes was one note of a familiar tune, but the people asked to carry the sculpture pieces from Basin Park to the Auditorium for the program didn't know what it was until they went up on stage.
There, Farbiarz lined up the sculpture holders and asked each to play their chimes in turn. When they did, they played the tune, "All we are asking is give peace a chance."
"None of us knew that was going to happen," said Sheila McFaddin. ""He orchestrated a choir that had never been together before."
Orchestrated by Quinn Withy, the MLK observance started with the procession from Basin Park led by Mark Wetzel and Farbiarz, with the sculpture bearers and others following up Main Street to the Auditorium. After the sculpture ringing, other musical groups took the stage, starting with a trio made up of Withy, Ivan Thompson and Martin Johnson playing songs popular when Martin Luther King began his civil rights work.
Guitarist Isaac Sivyer sang a moving rendition of "If I told you what I'd seen," and Tamara Jonason performed interpretive dance to music by "13 Moons" -- Randy Rust, Travis Clark and Jerry Landrum. Accompanied by Thompson and Withy, Rebecca Jean Brock played "Long Time Gone," and "Abraham, Martin and John," and Shakena Kedem sang a soul-shaking version of "This Land is Your Land."
The surprise of the afternoon was Martin Johnson, a 20-year-old guitarist from Eureka Springs, who got a standing ovation for his fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing. Johnson, who Withy found playing on the square in Bentonville, played what he called 'my Irish song,' an original piece based on a blues riff, and Andy McKee's "Drifting."
When he announced that he was going to play the next song in a very interesting style, someone in the audience said, "There's ALL an interesting style. Then Johnson held the guitar flat and played a melodic song using his index fingers, striking the strings like a drum.
Videos of Martin Luther King, photographs of civil rights marches and photographic portraits of local residents by John Rankine provided a backdrop for the musicians. Adrian Frost gave an invocation and recited the poem from "You Must Know Something," his performance piece describing an encounter with a veteran on the banks of the Mississippi River.
To create the "Give Peace a Chance" sound sculpture, Farbiarz said he painted ten automobile hubcaps to resemble mandalas, with the idea that each one was a peace shield symbolizing strength. Some of the chime sets were the same note but in different octaves, he said, creating harmonic resonance.
Farbiarz said the piece will appear on the sound art float in the Artrageous Parade during the May Festival of the Arts.