“A Bookmobile for Dreamers”

Sui generis: Edward Gorey

Bookstores make me happy. Growing up, my father and I would often walk around the corner after dinner to the local bookstore, an independent hole in the wall, long gone now. Sometimes I’d buy a book, often I’d just browse, open up a volume, read the first paragraph.

Gotham Book Mart’s iconic sign

Newburyport is blessed to have such two such shops with Jabberwocky and now Illume. In Philadelphia, my favorite is used bookstore Book Trader in Old City. In New York, when I moved back after school, I used to love trips to Gotham Book Mart (sadly closed since 2006) to pick up the latest Edward Gorey book (it was a favorite haunt of his). When I lived in San Francisco, Booksmith in Haight-Ashbury was my destination several times a week.

Book Trader – nothing could be more
Philly in its utter chaos

Our theremin player this summer, Elizabeth Brown, clearly loves books as well. Here are program notes for "Three Arias from A Bookmobile for Dreamers” which she’ll be performing along with a short film by her husband, animator Lothar Osterburg


"A Bookmobile for Dreamers” combines live theremin and recorded soundscape by Elizabeth Brown with video by Lothar Osterburg into a meditation on books, reading, libraries, and culture. Inspired by the joy of browsing, “A Bookmobile for Dreamers” celebrates the imagination as triggered by the printed word. As a bookmobile makes its rounds, we enter a series of books – and are carried away with the leaps, associations and meanderings of the imagination in all its unpredictability.

Still shot from “A Bookmobile for Dreamers”

Designed to be as portable as a bookmobile, Osterburg, who is a sculptor, photographer, printmaker and filmmaker, has created a dreamlike model world using real time video, stop motion animation and some special effects. Brown’s theremin sings over an electronic soundscape which she built from transformed field recordings of everyday sounds, and she uses the theremin’s spatial playing technique to interact with the virtual world of the video projection. Osterburg builds his small models by hand from memory, from readily available materials—vegetables, toothpicks, electronic debris—often rescued from dumpsters and piles of refuse on city streets. Stripped of superfluous detail and appearing in unlikely settings, the scenes draw the viewer into a world suspended between the real and the imaginary. Brown, who collects sounds the way Osterburg collects sculptural materials, hears music everywhere. A very moldy piano, mating frogs deep in the Grand Canyon, Aunt Irma’s grandfather clock at midnight, dropped silverware, a friend’s washing machine, rushing water in the drains of Lucca, Italy during a rainstorm, squeaking doors and groaning pipes, spinning tops, jawharps, footsteps in cinders, chickens…all these sounds coexist as books dissolve, refold themselves, and march along city streets, and the theremin plays on.

Still shot from “A Bookmobile for Dreamers”

CALL FOR HOUSING: we could use some assistance with housing this summer. We’re looking for hosts for some of the festival artists between July 29th and August 11th. Requirements include a private bedroom and bathroom, and air conditioning. Proximity to downtown is preferred but not required. It is an opportunity to get to know one of the artists up close and support the festival's mission. If you are interested in sponsoring an artist in your home, please contact sherry@chambermusicfestival.com

David Yang, Artistic Director

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