FirstWorks Premieres Multimedia Performance Installation from MASARY Studios During ‘Three Nights of Lights’ Winter Spectacle at historic Grace Church
October 24, 2023

Dynamic lighting, ‘spatialized’ sound and video projections create immersive experience open to the public the weekend of December 1-3 

Providence, RI—FirstWorks, an arts nonprofit known for producing astonishing spectacles announces a site-specific performance installation to premiere at the historic Grace Church, anchoring  downtown Providence’s “Three Nights of Lights” winter celebration taking place from December 1-3, 2023. Commissioned from Boston-based artist collective MASARY Studios, the new work, titled “Recursion and Release” explores three environments at the Grace Church campus. Attendees will experience a live acoustic vocal ensemble (Saturday evening), digital audio manipulation, video projection and dynamic lighting.

“Introducing our community to astonishing, building-size spectacles and ground-breaking artists is central to FirstWorks’ mission of connecting art with audiences in Providence,” says Kathleen Pletcher, FirstWorks Founder and Executive Artistic Director. “We are coming up on our 20-year anniversary and what better way to celebrate than by presenting a brand-new, site-specific ‘first work’ designed as a centerpiece of the new ‘Three Nights of Lights’ tradition downtown.”

As attendees move through the Church courtyard, pavilion and sanctuary, they will encounter spatialized sound and light. The immersive experience features a new composition for vocal ensemble by pioneering composer, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist Kitty Brazelton, who is known for championing music’s power to unite —across genre, tradition and language. The multimedia performance installation will be open to the public on December 1-3, 2023 from 5:00-9:00 PM. A live ensemble performance of Brazelton’s composition will take place in the sanctuary on Saturday, December 2, from 5:00-9:00 PM and will feature vocalists Barbara Hill, Alexis Peart, Eric Christopher Perry, Stephan Griffin and Nathan Halbur. The event is free and open to the public with RSVP recommended at https://firstworks.org.

“Working with MASARY on this ‘live’ installation has been fascinating,” says Brazelton. “I’ve been writing for concert attention most of my life, but here I share the ‘stage’ with dynamic visual and audio manipulation, and that stage space is itself variable, imaginary, invisible at times. It exists more in the mind than in the flesh — soundtrack vs. concert. And still, we’re live. I get to travel the world with new partners and their thought patterns. And with the new psychological challenge of invisibility, telling a story from within the audience’s collective mind.”

MASARY Studios is a Boston-based, transdisciplinary art studio that explores environments through site-specific installations using sound, light, interactivity and performance.

“Working with a vocal ensemble is very exciting, it’s not something we’ve done as a studio in the past,” says Jeremy Stewart, Principal and Technical Director at MASARY Studios. “Bringing the flexibility and nuance of the human voice together with real-time audio analysis, signal manipulation, and audio-reactive video is very different from working with electronic instruments that are much more rigid. Being able to work with Kitty as we develop the multimedia aspects of the piece is allowing all the parts of this artwork to be created in conversation with each other — blending media art performance technologies, music composition, and choral singing into one. The Grace Church site is beautiful, combining neo-Gothic and modern architectures; motivating the ways that we are approaching the sonic and visual palette of the piece, to be arranged in three different spaces of the church.”

This project is made possible with support from Rhode Island Commerce and is funded, in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

About MASARY Studios
MASARY Studios is a Boston based collective of transdisciplinary artists working on monumental site-specific artworks in the public realm. Their practice is often based in light, sound and the development and deployment of new technologies at architectural scale. They are interested in permanent and temporary multimedia, site-specific works that reconsider architectural and spatial givens. Visit https://masarystudios.com to learn more.

About FirstWorks
FirstWorks is a non-profit based in Providence, Rhode Island whose purpose is to build the cultural, educational and economic vitality of its community by engaging diverse audiences with world-class performing arts and education programs. Now approaching its 20th anniversary, FirstWorks festivals, performances and programs have attracted more than 700,000 participants since its founding in 2004. During its 2022-23 season, FirstWorks produced over 40 arts education events reaching over 2,400 Rhode Island youth. Virtual Learning online platforms furthered FirstWorks educational reach and have so far engaged over 100,000 views from students, educators, and families. FirstWorks is the founding partner of PVDFest and has collaborated with the City of Providence to curate and produce the City’s free, signature arts celebration since 2015. Embracing collaboration, FirstWorks has fostered over 90 community partnerships across business, social service, government, arts and education sectors. Visit https://firstworks.org to learn more.

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