What is the sound of wonder? Is it the deep, rich reverberation of gargantuan strings? Is it the crystalline tone of musical glass? Could it be the warmth of harp strings paired with cool melodic percussion? Or maybe it’s human breath channeled through a variety of instruments to create a range of soulful tones. During Silver Dollar City’s New Festival of Wonder, you’ll discover that it’s all of these things and so much more.
When it comes to musical innovation, visionary artist William Close thinks big. Over the course of his career he has created scores of new musical instruments, all of which not only possess their own unique sound, but also exhibit architectural and sculptural elements, combining the aural and visual into a truly exciting sensory experience.
The centerpiece of the show is the massive Earth Harp. Consisting of a large bridge that rests on the stage and between 16 and 22 individual strings that span out and up over the audience, the Earth Harp is the world’s largest stringed instrument. Close runs his gloved hands coated with rosin along the strings to produce a warm full sound that resembles the tone of a cello.
The thing that truly makes the Earth Harp extraordinary is that it turns the space in which it is installed into the instrument, and it has been in some iconic places. Close has strung the Earth Harp from the Space Needle in Seattle, The Colosseum in Rome and across canyons and mountain valleys.
During The Festival of Wonder, Silver Dollar City’s Red Gold Heritage Hall has the honor of hosting this incredible invention as William Close and The Earth Harp Collective create a performance designed to dazzle the senses. Along with the Earth Harp, this immersive experience features a number of Close’s other ingenious instruments, dynamic vocals and striking lighting effects.
The Festival of Wonder's musical marvels don't end there...
The hang drum, or hand drum, is another relatively new invention. Created in Bern, Switzerland in 2000, this unusual looking instrument’s outward appearance is reminiscent of a flying saucer. This pitched percussion instrument is similar to the steel drum; however its sound is warmer and richer, producing almost bell-like tones. Paolo Borghi, a native of the Emilia Romanga region of Italy, skillfully produces hypnotic melodies by striking various parts of the convex surface of the drum with his bare hands.
French native Marianne Gubri’s sublime performance on the Celtic harp alongside the hang drum creates a complex tapestry of sound that is delightfully mesmerizing to hear.
The wondrous glass harp is comprised of goblets and snifters of various sizes, which are played by carefully rubbing their rims with moistened fingers. Whether played with simple melodies or complex and ethereal harmonies, glass music has an unmistakable sound. Brien Engel is part of an exciting new community helping to revive and promote the music of the glass armonica.
Human breath is the driving force that brings to life an array of fascinating wind instruments, as the talented musicians of Ecuador Manta demonstrate the sweet and mellow sounds that can be created by air. The Minnesota-based band has been delighting Silver Dollar City audiences with their Andean melodies for years.
During The Festival of Wonder, they bring their musical expertise of traditional wind instruments, including clay and carved whistles and giant pan flutes to create a performance filled with smooth other-worldly melodies.
The Festival of Wonder runs now through April 30, don't miss your chance to experience these amazing performances! See operating calendar for details.