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Arts & Culture

Walk In The Park With Your Own Soundtrack

Ellen Reid Sound Walk logo
Saratoga Performing Arts Center

A walk in the park will be even more beautiful this year. At least they will be in Saratoga State Park and Washington Park in Albany.

Thanks to musicians who love nature and understand technology, you can take a nature walk and have the experience enhanced by music that was selected to make specific locations of the park even more beautiful. 

It’s free and it’s simple.  All you need is a cell phone, ear plugs and a free app.   Log in to your app and GPS does everything else for you.

Ellen Reid’s SOUNDWALK has returned to the Saratoga State Park, where it was enjoyed last fall.  It will remain as a year-long park enhancement through June 1, 2022. 

It features music specifically composed and designed for the Spa State Park that will follow you as you explore the natural springs, wooded areas, geysers, waterfalls and now additional trails featuring the reflecting pool and Avenue of the Pines.

One of the special pleasures of the Soundwalk is it permits you to make every walk you take sound different, depending on the route you choose.  You can walk at your own pace and select the route that gives you the most satisfaction.  Wherever you go, the music changes. No two experiences have to be the same. 

It’s hardly necessary to explain the benefits of having beautiful music accompany you on an outdoor walk amidst the beauty of nature.  Indeed, the purpose of the Soundwalk concept was to enhance the surroundings to help form a deeper connection to nature.  It’s like having your own movie soundtrack.

Inspired by Ellen Reid’s SOUNDWALK event in SPAC and Central Park, Emma Edgar, a member of the Empire State Youth Orchestra’s Young Leaders Program enlisted a team of ESYO musicians to curate an immersive Soundwalk around Washington Park Lake. 

Edgar’s group geo-mapped the lake trail using the izi.travel app and matched a selection of music including 7 original works commissioned for this project, to each section of the trail.

Like the Saratoga Soundwalk, the recorded pieces are streamed online through a phone app, and as audiences stroll along the nature trail, the music automatically changes based on the walker's location in the park. 

For the Washington Park Soundwalk, Edgar and her team are using original works by several local composers and artists, including the Musicians of Ma'Alwyck, Brett Wery, and 2020 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award finalist Aaron Houston. 

Each piece was prepared and rehearsed by ESYO members and recorded at Proctors by ESYO Alumnus and Young Leaders mentor Sean Jones.

While both Soundwalks are valuable contributions to the well-being of the community, the work of Edgar and her crew at ESYO is especially inspiring.

The Youth orchestra is an organization that engages over 600 youth from the area, inspiring them to be both excellent musicians and concerned members of society.

Part of this mission is accomplished with the Young Leaders program. Participants in the program are expected to spend 8-10 hours a month volunteering in music education, special events and projects.  They are supervised by a mentor from the ESYO community.

Edgar, a senior at Bethlehem High School, managed the artistic and technical aspect of the project, including forming a budget, commissioning contracts and selecting the music.  

About the contributions of her and her peers, Edgar says, she hopes the project “inspires people her age to add vibrancy to their community.”   She adds,  “I hope it will inspire older generations to see what people my age are capable of accomplishing.” 

To enjoy the Soundwalks simply download the free GPS-enabled app to your phone and plug in your headphones for an outdoor escape, connecting you with art and nature. 

Choose any entrance marked on the map, head in any direction and move at your own pace. 

For information on obtaining the Ellen Reid’s SOUNDSCAPE app, go  spac.org.

For the ESYO Washington Park Soundwalk, go esyo.org.

Bob Goepfert is theater reviewer for the Troy Record.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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