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Land O’Lakes sound garden integrates music, nature, and community artwork for immersive experience

Tucked just off Highway B in Land O’Lakes behind the Northern Waters Museum and next to Northland Pines SOAR Charter School sits a little patch of woods.

“[It’s] very unique with these very tall pines, but the whole understory was cleared at some point, so now there’s just this really rich, filled in greenery of bracken fern and other plants,” said JG Everest. “When I found spot, I was really excited about creating a soundtrack for people to experience this place.”

Each speaker spot is carefully planned out to create a unique experience no matter how you walk through the sound garden.
Katie Thoresen
Each speaker spot is carefully planned out to create a unique experience no matter how you walk through the sound garden.

The Minnesota composer and director has put hundreds of hours of work into planning and creating the sound garden in Land O’Lakes.

At its core, a sound garden is an immersive art experience.

In the case of the one in Land O’Lakes, people will be able to meander through the woods at their own pace.

Scatter throughout there are carefully created vessels to hide speakers from view, some of which were created by students in Watersmeet and at the SOAR Charter School.

“The students in those schools made different art pieces, poetry, sculptures, and they painted some little urns that are going to hold speakers for the sound garden,” said Everest.

Those speakers are timed down to the second to play out in sync the composition Everest created.

“If you can think of the way in an orchestra, you have first violin, second violin, there’s like a 70-piece orchestra. Each part, first French horn, second French horn, trumpet, trombone is playing a different part of the music but when you listen to it to all together, it’s one piece of music,” said Everest. “Well if you can imagine each of those parts being put on it’s own speaker and then that speaker being put inside a birdhouse, or a felt pod or one of these urns that the kids have painted so that it’s like you’re walking through the orchestra while it’s playing, because every step you take, every time you turn your head, the mix and orientation changes of the music.”

In addition to the sound of the music and the sights of nature people will also be able to take in the other artwork.

Like the music, it was all inspired by woods around them.

Some of it was created by the students. Others by community members and visitors that attended workshops held by LOLA last week on photography, painting, poetry, and music.

“They come to this event, and they might not notice things either but through the lens everybody else who’s been here and spending time here, the kids, poetry workshop, photography workshop, now they’re going to be able to relate through all these other lenses of different people through different mediums,” said Everest.

That connection between art, nature, and community is one of the things LOLA is valuing most in this sound garden experience.

“I’m looking forward to witnessing people wandering through. It’s a very meditative thing that you wander through or just sit and enjoy and have time to do stop, listen, close your eyes read the poetry that was written by the participants, view the artwork and just disengage from normal life,” said Jennifer Anderson, LOLA’s executive director.

The sound garden is located in a small forest just off highway B in Land O'Lakes.
Katie Thoresen
The sound garden is located in a small forest just off highway B in Land O'Lakes.

Both Anderson and Everest hope people walk away with an appreciation for the little slice of woods in Land O’Lakes.

“We are just very fortunate to have this area in the town of Lake O’Lakes which is a hidden little gem,” said Anderson.

But also, an appreciation for the power of art and nature.

“I hear from people all the time spending time in a sound garden really shifted things for them. They thought about things they hadn’t thought about. It brought relief or a form of healing that they were really in need of,” said Everest. “I don’t want people to come and expect anything like that necessarily, but that’s certainly my hope that this really helps people feel good and feel more connected, more grounded to their own community, but they’re also going to be here in this beautiful natural space.”

The sound garden is open Monday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

It’s free and open to the public.

Land O’Lakes is also celebrating ‘Make Music Day’ Tuesday.

There will be live performances throughout the day and throughout the town.

You can find more information on LOLA’s website.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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  • Make Music Day
    Join the celebration! Make Music Day is a nationwide event, happening in over 800 cities on Tuesday, June 21st, the longest day of the year. LOLA Arts, up in beautiful Land O’ Lakes, WI, will be putting on a day filled with free music events. Starting at 10am and running until 6pm, musicians will be setting up and playing free concerts around different Land O Lakes businesses. Come listen to all the local talent! Or, want to try your hand at making some noise? There will be different opportunities to play the steel drums. Or join in LOLA’s Make Music Day parade at noon, and receive a free small percussion instrument to take home. For a full schedule of all the free music events, go to their website at www.lolaartswi.com or follow them on facebook or instagram.