On Saturday, Oct. 7, from 4–11 p.m., the newly renovated Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods will play host to OPUS 1, a festival inspired by the spirit of the woods of Downtown Columbia. Celebrating the art of sound, the inaugural one-day festival blends immersive art installations with music performances and treetop projection mapping. State-of-the-art technology will coexist with artisanal offerings and a bonfire hearth.
OPUS 1 will surround festival-goers with a multi-sensory experience filled with discovery and wonder. The first part of a three-year project, bringing art and cutting-edge culture to the area, OPUS 1 is presented by The Howard Hughes Corp. (HHC), the developers of Downtown Columbia.
“We are thrilled to launch this one-of-a-kind experience in Downtown Columbia,” said John DeWolf, executive vice president, development, at HHC. “Columbia has long been known in the music world due to the historical significance of Merriweather Post Pavilion, and OPUS allows us to tell the story of the next phase in the city’s cultural evolution. We are committed to providing an opportunity where art, music and technology can flourish in an extraordinary way.”
Curated and produced by Wild Dogs International, the New York City-based art production, curation and design company, OPUS 1 will be composed of 11 large-scale activation areas for guests of all ages, including the following.
• The Lighting Cloud, an immersive, inflatable air pavilion designed by architect Jesse Seegers that offers a backdrop for projection art
• The U.S. premiere of Híbridos Live, the Vincent Moon-fronted performance project that explores Brazilian ritual dance and soundscapes through live video mixing and performance
• The Color Field Immersion created by Doron Sadja, an American artist, composer and curator whose work explores modes of perception and the experience of sound, light and space
• The Mutual Wave Machine, by Suzanne Dikker, to be presented in collaboration with a group of computational artists, video artists and neuroscientists, is an interactive neurofeedback installation that embodies the elusive notion of “being on the same wavelength” with another person through brainwave synchronization.
• The Dream Machine: Fresh off of the world premiere at Melbourne’s Supersense Festival, Dream Machine takes Brion Gysin’s hallucination-inducing sculpture to an immersive performance environment on the Chrysalis stage, led by Darkside’s Dave Harrington and a host of special guests.
• EXO-TECH Galactic Hearth: Sophia Brous lights up The Hearth stage with her star-studded improvisational ensemble, weaving a strikingly unique palette across wide influences, exploring free jazz improvisation alongside expansive R&B exotica.
• After premiering at the Broad Museum, Miho Hatori’s New Optimism transforms the lightning cloud into an ethereal cave where audience members adorn headlamps to provide interactive stage lighting, while enveloping projections offer an illusory take on historic cave drawings.
• Following a multi-year hiatus of solo projects and artistic adventures, New York-based indie-experimentalists Gang Gang Dance return with new takes on classic material and a glimpse of what’s to come.
• In addition to his poetic live performance, Lonnie Holley, a giant in the world of outsider art, leads a found object sculpture workshop for all ages.
• The Projection Cube, an immersive experience where guests are surrounded in a 360-degree environment of video art, curated by multimedia artist Peter Burr
• George Mason Pep Band: George Mason’s Green Machine and its eccentric bandleader, Doc Nix, kick off the festival with a performance featuring more than 50 of the group’s top players and a set of energetic tributes to today’s hits of electronic dance music and pop.
“Audio-visual arts converge through site-specific experiences to manifest the spirit of the woods in a way that is both subtle and spectacular, intimate and immersive,” said Ken Farmer, creative director of Wild Dogs International. “The forest is a liminal space where boundaries are blurred between audience and performer, onlooker and participant, between people, genres and media. OPUS 1 is an enveloping journey down the rabbit hole.”
In addition, OPUS 1 will extend the multi-sensory experience to an upscale culinary village, providing guests with bites from regional purveyors. As the groundswell moment of the celebrations surrounding Columbia’s 50th anniversary, OPUS 1 will feature the new Chrysalis Stage transformed like never before.
Admission is free and open to all ages. Guests are encouraged to reserve their tickets at opusmerriweather.com for expedited entry.