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'Sun Box' Orchestra Comes to Brookfield Sunday

The solar powered musical art installation will be on display this weekend at Town Hall.

This Sunday, a former Brookfield resident is coming home to debut his solar powered opus: Sun Boxes, a self-sustaining art installation.

Craig Colorusso, a 1988 (BHS) graduate, will be setting up 20 solar powered stereos from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. near the gazebo a, each playing a different note at different speeds, harmonizing to create a single, interactive piece of music.

Colorusso, a self-described “recovering musician” and guitarist in the local band China Pig during high school, said he always enjoyed performing on stage but eventually wanted to do something different musically.

He described China Pig as a “loud, moody rock band,” and said that through high school and later while living and playing in Massachusetts, he “really just liked loud guitars.”

However, “At some point I became more interested in how sound decays,” how the vibrations of a note slowly trail off “and melts into the Earth,” he said. “When I started to understand music outside of songs the world became such a bigger place.”

During a residency at the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite, NV, Colorusso was tasked with creating a self-sustaining, open air art installation “off the grid,” so he designed the sun boxes and set them in the Arizona desert to play a score.

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As people walk through the installation, the boxes play four notes (five of each) at different tempos to produce six chords, Colorusso explained. As the piece continues, the patterns also reset at different rates, causing the chords to synchronize differently over time, creating a song that, if played end to end, would last several months.

The more sun an individual box receives, the louder the volume. If the solar panel isn’t receiving direct sunlight, it shuts off immediately, causing some interesting effects.

“If a cloud passes over, they all shut off, but then the sun comes through and they all turn on at once,” Colorusso said, though something as simple as the shadow cast by someone strolling past will turn off a single speaker. “As you walk through you create your own mix,” with the sound changing depending on where you stand.

And that was his original intention, to “make something people could be a part of,” however he discovered that nature would play just as large a role.

Coming from the Arizona desert, where the sun is ever-present, Colorusso wasn’t sure New England would lend itself to Sun Boxes. Instead, he discovered that the ambient noises added to the score.

 “We live in a paradise,” Colorusso said of the northeast. “We’ve done it in grassy fields, we’ve done it in the snow, we’ve done it on beaches, all I see is possibilities.”

The sounds of waves crashing, the breeze in the background, buzzing insects and chirping birds all lend to the greater sound.

“It takes all sounds and creates a musical,” he explained

Though he makes a living as a carpenter in Fayette, AR, Colorusso has been traveling with his Sun Boxes installation since 2009 and has found every venue unique.

“It really is different everywhere it goes,” he said. “It’s sound as another element of part of the bigger picture.”

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