THSH Artist-in-Residence Sam Underwood - June 2013

Hello. My name is Sam Underwood and I am the newest Artist-in-Residence at Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH). I am a musician, sound artist and musical instrument designer. I will both have a presence on-site at THSH and will contribute regular blog posts, so people can see what I am up to and what inspires me. I hope this might offer inspiration to others.

Thus far my work has mainly taken the form of “getting to know you”, including the buildings, resources and people. As anticipated, and to some degree intended, this has thrown up some interesting challenges already.

I aim to be as open as possible in the hope that this will be reciprocated, to our mutual benefit. I have already been sharing some of my inspirations with members of the THSH team through a private blog I set up via my site and have been scouring the buildings for places I might demo my work. I have been chosen because my work and approach is considered interesting but also because it extends outside many of the things already well covered by the teams at THSH. Equally, I aim to gain valuable insights throughout my time in residence. I’ve never shared a beer with an organ scholar before or seriously considered the implications of presenting work in such a highly regarded acoustic space.

So, I’ll be around doing my thing and letting people know what I am up to and why. I’ll be experiencing new things myself and feeding this back into my work during my time in residence. Hopefully much of this will be of great benefit to my hosts; a fresh perspective right in the heart of their space. I am not going to singlehandedly lead a creative revolution or anything but I might offer some little steers on certain projects and hopefully encourage further exploration.

The one thing you shouldn’t expect much of from me is ego. I am confident enough to get stuff done but I’m at least as happy helping to make stuff happen behind the scenes as I am stage front soaking up any glory. I am more a hardworking technician than a flamboyant front man but in the situation that the arts currently finds itself in I’d argue someone who can bring parties together without the need to be front and centre themself could be pretty useful.

The most substantial development so far is that I will be setting up a Sonic Research Lab in a room on Level 2. The space has been agreed and I am making arrangements to move in. I take the “in-residence” part of my title fairly literally. I’d like to be around a lot, to offer a view into my world and working methods, whilst also immersing myself in THSH more.

A quick summary of the other stuff I have done so far:

Toured the guts of Town Hall and Symphony Hall in search of stimuli
Set up an inspirations blog, so far including the likes of this) and this
Met with various people at THSH to get a feel for how stuff works
Been to a number of THSH events, ranging from stuff I wouldn’t ever have gone to previously, to the recent launch of Universe of Sound, which was most engaging
Helped out with a couple of contacts and project ideas in the hope these might result in some exciting new stuff at THSH
Pondered, muchly

Next up is more of the same for a while. There is no sense in rushing the getting to know you phase and missing a trick. I will also be setting up my lab forthwith.

Lastly, I welcome your ideas. I draw my inspirations very widely so why not get in touch, either via the comments to this post or via email:

Thanks for reading; further updates to follow!

– Sam Underwood, THSH Artist-in-Residence