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Singers invited to audition March 31 for installation at Crystal Bridges

Auditions for ‘Sonic Blossom’ March 31 by Monica Hooper | March 19, 2023 at 1:00 a.m.
Singers are called to audition for Lee Mingwei’s participatory performance installation, "Sonic Blossom," on March 31 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Begun in 2013, this ongoing participatory performance installation with chair, music stand, costume and spontaneous song was developed by Lee Mingwei while taking care of his mother. Inspired by the fact they both found solace in listening to Schubert’s Lieder, the project takes the form of “gift-giving” of the Lied to invite a moment of catharsis, joy and connection. (Courtesy Photo/Barbara Donaubauer for Museum Villa Stuck)

Local singers will have the opportunity to audition for a unique and intimate performance at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art -- "Sonic Blossom" by artist Lee Mingwei.

"I would describe 'Sonic Blossom' as an immersive performance installation environment," says Dr. Xuxa Rodríguez, assistant curator for Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges. As an artist, Mingwei "creates participatory installations, where strangers can explore issues of trust, intimacy, and self-awareness, and one-on-one events," according to his artistic statement.

For this installation, singers dressed in an obi (a broad sash worn with a Japanese kimono) designed by Mingwei will offer the gift of song, one of Franz Schubert's Leiders, to a museum patron if ... if the patron is open to it. From there the singer will lead the guest to a chair, also designed by Mingwei, in another gallery and sing the song for the patron.

"It takes the experience of an opera performance and makes it very intimate in a gallery setting and kind of creates a portrait between the singer and the receiver, the guest who receives the gift of song," Rodríguez says.

"The genesis of the performance comes from Mingwei's relationship with his mother. When he was a child, she would play him Schubert's Leiders very low. So he would ask, 'Could you turn it up so I can hear it?' And she would say no. 'If you stand very still, you can hear Schubert well.' So, in a sense, she was getting him to behave. Then later, when she was older, and she was sick in the hospital, he would play them for her while he was caring for her," Rodríguez explains. "The songs become this transition between seasons for them -- stages of life, moving from being in pain to healing, moving from childhood to adulthood, changing roles."

She adds that "Sonic Blossom" began in 2013 and that Crystal Bridges will have the exhibit in time for its 10th anniversary. The installation has toured internationally with stops in Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing, Paris and other countries as well as stateside in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Cleveland. It was selected as "The Best Classical Music of 2015" and "The Best in Art of 2015" by The New York Times for its presentation at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibit will start in September at Crystal Bridges. Singers may audition for "Sonic Blossom" on March 31 in the Great Hall at the Museum. Rodríguez says that singers should be prepared to sing one of Schubert's five Leiders -- Du bist die Ruh, D. 776 "You are Peace, the Mild Peace;" An den Mond, D. 193 "To The Moon;" Frühlingsglaube, D. 686 "Spring Faith;" Nacht und Träume, D. 827 "Night and Dream;" or Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D. 774 "In the Middle of the Shimmer of the Reflecting Waves."

Auditions will be from 2-7 p.m. with a rehearsal period of one hour before auditions. Information on how to audition and register is online at

"Then along with one of the Schubert's Lieders they should also prepare a separate song of their choosing, so they should bring their sheet music. They don't have to have the selections memorized for the audition. We will have Dr. Hyun Kim of the University of Arkansas [Fayetteville] as a pianist, and we'll have an open hour before the auditions officially start if folks want to rehearse with her before proceeding," Rodríguez says.

"One of the things that's really important to me about the work, especially within the context of Crystal Bridges, is that it is our first immersive performance artwork as an exhibition. It will live in the gallery for about 21 days. Guests will be able to experience it -- if they are selected to participate by being offered the gift of song or they can sit in the galleries and watch the gift being exchanged," Rodríguez adds. "This is a way of doing performance art in a long durational exhibition setting for the first time as an institution, and really inviting our guests to come on this journey with us as an institution because we do performance at The Momentary, but I don't think our guests here at Crystal Bridges are often used to and/or have the opportunity to experience a long-form work like 'Sonic Blossom,' so that's exciting."



'Sonic Blossom'


WHAT -- Auditions will be held for local singers to take part in "Sonic Blossom," a participatory performance installation.

WHEN -- Auditions from 2-7 p.m. with practices from 1-2 p.m. March 31; performances Sept. 6-Oct. 2

WHERE -- The Great Hall at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville

COST -- There is no charge to participate


Print Headline: The Gift Of Song


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