This free, public performance on Lake Pontchartrain debuted composer Yotam Haber’s “New Water Music.” It was performed from the water by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and hundreds of community musicians in a spectacular choreographed visual presentation, conceived and executed by New Orleans Airlift.
As the sun began its descent on April 8, the musicians took their positions on land and on water-bound staging for a grand event against the endless backdrop of Lake Pontchartrain. Conducting with naval semaphore flags and in occasional Morse Code, Haber’s score will flowed across the water, paying tribute to traditional Louisiana music including Cajun accordion and African-American spirituals. In the regatta beyond, a procession of fishing boats and vessels will unfold under the artistic direction of Airlift’s Delaney Martin.
“New Water Music” took inspiration from Handel’s “Water Music,” famously performed on the River Thames for King George I in 1717, but also for the wider city who watched from shore and from boats - public concerts did not enter the musical tradition until the late 18th century.
“New Water Music” paid homage by connecting exceptional music to a diverse public audience, but also used this performance to illuminate Louisiana’s coastal crisis of receding wetlands and changing lifestyles for fisherman and coastal residents, with repercussions for New Orleans residents and beyond. According to Bob Marshall of Scientific American, “Louisiana loses 16 square miles of land a year, the fastest rate of land loss in the world.” This project explored critical issues of water and land use in the Gulf region as well as the growing crisis of coastal erosion. “New Water Music” strived to inspire participation and leadership in residents whose voices are essential to catalyzing change.