Per­for­ma­tive div­ing piece pays trib­ute to the James

Pro­ject is part of three-day fes­ti­val hon­or­ing the river

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - LOCAL PERSPECTIVES - BY TIM DOD­SON tdod­son@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6456

Dozens of peo­ple sat on rocks along the James River on Satur­day after­noon as sounds of a sym­phony, wildlife record­ings and the heavy breaths of divers em­anated from a nearby speaker.

The crowd watched as a small team of divers sub­merged them­selves un­der the river.

Yards away, an­other team of divers sat on the land in their scuba gear, qui­etly med­i­tat­ing as the sym­phony played in front of them un­der the shade of a white tent.

Artist Hope Gins­burg, who was lead­ing the per­for­ma­tive piece, shared a few words about the river from un­der­neath the wa­ter be­fore her team emerged and re­joined their fel­low divers on shore.

“As some­one who uses my art projects as an op­por­tu­nity to ... learn so­cially, learn col­lec­tively, this felt like an ex­tra­or­di­nary op­por­tu­nity to not only learn about this river that I live with, but to learn with my com­mu­nity of sci­en­tists, ad­ven­tur­ers, mu­si­cians, artists and divers,” Gins­burg said af­ter the per­for­mance, which fea­tured a score com­posed by Joshua Quar­les.

“I hope [the view­ers] had an ex­pe­ri­ence of the river that was new,” Gins­burg added.

The pro­ject was part of this week­end’s Fes­ti­val of the River, a three-day se­ries of events invit­ing the Rich­mond com­mu­nity to honor the James River that flows through the heart of the city. The fes­ti­val in­cludes artis­tic and mu­si­cal per­for­mances, as well as “Back to the Bay” en­vi­ron­men­tally fo­cused pro­gram­ming as part of Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Aware­ness Week.

“The point of it all is to re­mind peo­ple of the im­por­tance of the health of the river and the wa­ter­sheds and the re­la­tion­ship of the wa­ter­sheds to the river and the river to the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” said David Fisk, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Rich­mond Sym­phony.

The fes­ti­val co­in­cides with the Rich­mond Sym­phony’s 60th an­niver­sary and fea­tures mul­ti­ple sym­phony per­for­mances over the week­end.

“This is the end of our 60th an­niver­sary sea­son — we wanted to do some­thing spe­cial at the end that would be re­mem­bered but would also bring a lot of peo­ple to­gether,” Fisk said. “There’s noth­ing more spe­cial about Rich­mond than the river.”

The fes­ti­val started with Fri­day Cheers per­for­mances from the No BS! Brass Band, Rich­mond Sym­phony and Grammy Award-win­ner Rhi­an­non Gid­dens. Satur­day evening’s per­form­ers in­cluded the Rich­mond Sym­phony and Savion Glover, a Tony Award-win­ning tap dancer and chore­og­ra­pher.

The fes­ti­val wraps up Sun­day with ac­tiv­i­ties on Brown’s Is­land from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in­clud­ing a com­mu­nity pic­nic where at­ten­dees are asked to bring a blan­ket to do­nate to a lo­cal drive and help ar­range into an im­age of the James River, which will then be cap­tured by aerial pho­tog­ra­phy.

A sched­ule of events is avail­able on the Rich­mond Sym­phony’s web­site at rich­mondsym­phony.com/com­mu­nity/ fes­ti­val-of-the-river/

SHELBY LUM/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Matt Flow­ers (from left), David Fisk and Gins­burg pre­pared to dive Satur­day as part of Gins­burg’s per­for­ma­tive piece hon­or­ing the James River.

Artist Hope Gins­burg said she hoped view­ers “had an ex­pe­ri­ence of the river that was new.” Her per­for­mance was part of this week­end’s Fes­ti­val of the River.

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