It’s not every day that a place like Assembly House 150 comes around. Fortunately for Buffalo, we are home to this one-of-a-kind visionary concept that has not only captured the imaginations of countless people, it’s also served to indoctrinate the next generation of fine craftspeople.
Each time I pay a visit to Assembly House 150, I come away with a greater appreciation for the ever-morphing concept, which is the brainchild of Dennis Maher. The building – akin to a “living and breathing” organic structure – is representational of the eclectic minds and skilled hands that have passed through its enchanting doors.
During my last couple of visits, I came across an impressive installation that is perfectly suited for the space – the “ENR Aeoline” pipe organ, which was dreamed up and pieced together by Ulysses Atwhen. The singular performative artwork is housed within another sculptural installation – Black Mass – which is situated at the apex of the Assembly House. The ideal location for the pipe organ, within the former church, enhances and amplifies the drone of the instrument in ways that must be experiences firsthand.
Towards that end, Assembly House 150 crew has now arranged for a special one-night-only concert, titled Riparian Forest, featuring the star of the show – the pipe organ, played by local artist and musician Ulysses Atwhen – along with an improvisational orchestra of percussive, string, and wind instruments. The result will be an immersive sonic experience within the church, that will get underway with a vocal section of over 20 voices, composed by Tony Billoni and orchestrated by artist and educator Kilissa Cissoko. This element of the performance is inspired by Tony Conrad’s “Four Violins.”
Central to the performance is the pipe organ’s drone, upon which a chorus of electronic, percussive, string, and wind instruments build and combine.
“It’s shaping up to be an incredible evening and is made possible by years of collaboration between the preservation, arts, design, and architecture communities including Preservation Buffalo Niagara, ReUse Action, Scot Fisher, Olivier Delrieu-Schulze, John Zissovici, Ethan Davis, and many others,” said Olivia McManus.
“Assembly House 150 is nurturing a very unique environment for me to build and develop both the ‘ENR Aeoline’ instrument as art-object – within the unique sculptural acoustic space of Zissovici’s Black Mass – and the ‘Riparian’ series as a performative iteration of sound and music,” commented Ulysses Atwhen.
“Incredibly collaborative, this performance, orchestrated by Ulysses Atwhen, is the result of years of generative partnerships across the communities of art, design, architecture, preservation, and building,” noted Dennis Maher Executive Director, Assembly House 150. “It embodies the collective ethos of Assembly house 150 and gestures towards the energy we hope to bring to future programs and activations in our space. “
Riparian Forest invites the audience to be present within the unique visual and acoustic space of Assembly House to consider new relationships between performer, audience, and venue.
Along with the headlining orchestral movement, the audience will also be treated to an improvisational component, conducted by Tristan Tims, that will complement the organ, creating an immersive sonic landscape.
This special event is designed for appreciators of music, architecture, trades, design, and the minds of those who are able to bring them all together to create a magical performance unlike anything that has been witnessed to date.
Assembly House 150 is thrilled to announce Riparian Forest | communion: a liturgy, a one-night-only, immersive sonic experience by local artist & musician Ulysses Atwhen.
As an art, design, and construction incubator, and experiential learning center, Assembly House 150 brings together tradespeople, artists, designers, architects, artisans, planners, preservationists, students, and others. The ever-evolving immersive environment at Assembly House presents a unique opportunity to expand our collaborative reach and we aim for this first artist activation to lead towards additional engagements with local, national, and international creative communities in the future.
Tickets for Riparian Forest are offered on a sliding scale from $10-$50 and all sales will support future performances, exhibitions, and other experiments with the built environment. Doors will open at 8pm on Saturday, May 7, and the performance will take place from 9-11pm. For any questions, call 716-560-8170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase tickets visit us at assemblyhouse150.org.
A special thanks to Preservation Buffalo Niagara for donating the original organ to Assembly House 150, to ReUse Action for salvage support, to Scot Fisher and Olivier Delrieu-Schulze for their guidance on assembly and tuning, and to Julian Montague for design support. The organ is housed at the apex of the Church, within Black Mass, a large-scale sculptural installation led by artist and Cornell Professor of Architecture John Zissovici, and architect Ethan Davis at Assembly House. This project would not be possible without the enduring support and creativity of everyone involved.