Composer Ashley Fure shares her thoughts on the immersive music-theater piece she created with her architect brother Adam Fure and the International Contemporary Ensemble, which will be performed August 6–8 at the Gelsey Kirkland Arts Center in Brooklyn as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival.


Ashley Fure: The Force of Things: An Opera for Objects is an immersive work of music theater that wrestles with the animate vitality of matter and the mounting hum of ecological anxiety around us. The project is driven by a desire to tune our focus toward a rate of change (impossibly slow) and a scope of alteration (unthinkably vast) at odds with the scale of human life. Audience members enter into a field of sculpted matter ringed by speakers emitting sounds too low for humans to hear. Though they vibrate under our threshold of audibility, this choir of subwoofers causes waveforms that ripple through and sonify the material space.

Aircraft cables, tensioned web-like across the 150-foot performance space, double as infrastructure and instrument when bowed like mammoth double basses. Two singers snake side-by-side amidst the audience, shouting a warning that sounds like a whisper in a language no one can understand. The Force of Things has a palpable sense of urgency and yet it's eerily still, as if the timescales are off, as if some future frantic state reaches us only in slow motion. These moves attempt to train our perception beyond its given boundaries—below the sounds we're built to hear and through the sensory illusion of stasis that renders us still in the face of collapse.

—Copyright © 2018 by Ashley Fure