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An eerie ghost light presides over Boettcher Concert Hall. —Photo courtesy of Nathan Hall

Sound Becomes Art in “Ghost Light”

Nathan Hall's new composition will change the way you think about concert experiences. 

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Nathan Hall remembers what it was like to sit in his room as a teenager, eyes closed, letting the music of his current favorite band wash over him. The Denver composer hopes to replicate that immersive experience for music lovers of all ages with his latest work, Ghost Light.

This month (August 16 to 27), Boettcher Concert Hall—which typically sits silent at this time of year while the Symphony is on break—will fill with Hall’s brand new composition. Except instead of being in the audience, guests can sit or lie on the stage for the immersive 25-minute sound experience. “It flips your [understanding] of what a concert experience would be like,” the 32-year-old says. A single ghost light will guide people to the stage, eventually fading out completely as the music heightens. (Per superstition, a ghost light must be left on in any empty theater. It’s thought to ward off otherwordly beings and, more practically, prevent people from falling off the stage or tripping on props as they search for a light switch.) Live musicians—from Denver band Land Lines, percussionist Luke Wachter, a quintet from the Playground Ensemble, and Pittsburgh-based experimental musician Dave Bernabo—will complement Hall’s work for four special performances; the remaining ones will take place on August 20, 23, and 27.

Hall’s meditative and haunting composition reverberates through Boettcher, pulling listeners along on a journey of sound experimentation. “What if,” Hall asks, “I took all the music the theater’s been soaking up over the decades and gave you the ghost of it?” To create just the right blend, Hall spent several months pulling samples from his previous works—some orchestral, some more electronic—that were never performed and combining them with friends’ recordings and his own wordless singing.

Though he’s created sound sculptures before, including a recent one for Denver’s Gildar Gallery, Hall—a Fulbright Fellow to Iceland and the Denver Art Museum’s first Creative In Residence—has never done anything quite like Ghost Light. (The project is the latest effort by the Denver Theatre District, with support from Denver Arts & Venues, to activate downtown venues in new ways.) He encourages “anyone looking for a little bit of adventure” to check it out. “It’s important for people to challenge themselves creatively,” Hall says. “There’s more to music than what people might be used to in their earbuds.”

Details: Ghost Light will have timed, ticketed entry. Tickets are $5 for general shows and $10 for the live performances; buy them here or at the door.

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