At the end of February, Craig Shepard will embark on a 780-mile walk around Brooklyn. The composer, trombonist, and trumpeter is taking his music to the streets for 91 days, performing in outdoor spaces throughout the borough.
Each Sunday from February 21st to May 21st, Shepard will leave his Greenpoint apartment and walk to places like the Newtown Creek Nature Walk, South Williamsburg’s Roebling Playground, the Coney Island boardwalk, the top of Sunset Park, and BAM Triangle Park in Downtown Brooklyn. Anyone is invited to accompany him on his weekly march, but must stroll in silence. His project, titled “On Foot: Brooklyn,” aims to bring beauty to the streets in the form of pleasant sounds. Each week he will compose a new piece, naming it after every location he visits. “My hope is to be able to invite people into a period of time that’s outside their day to day life,” he said. “I just want to extend the offer to join the walk or experience the performance for the hour.” Photographer Beth O’Brien will be joining along, snapping pictures and later animating them, stop motion style.
Shepard is a member of the Wandelweiser Group, a global collective of performers and composers. “On Foot: Brooklyn” is the second installment of his project, with the first having taken place in Switzerland. In 2005, he walked 250 miles across the country, composing a new song every day. In the midst of that tireless roving, Shepard found that long walks often produced musical revelations. “By eliminating any kind of public transportation in New York City, I am able to reclaim a number of hours in my day,” he said. “It also slows down the body and mind so I can focus on the creative work.”
By day, Shepard works for a financial company in Manhattan, and in his spare time, performs in formal venues, on street corners, or in McCarren Park. “I played my trumpet in the park during Hurricane Irene,” he said. “All of my shows are rain or shine. It’s one reason to play the trumpet as opposed to the violin.”
Jack Callahan, a musician and friend of Shepard’s who will be walking in April, said the project gives New Yorkers the chance to experience the city in a different way. “It’s a way of removing the daily distractions that distance you from the actual sonic experience of the city. You’re so caught up in commuting and the stress of living in a big city that it’s difficult to stop and take in your environment.”
Another walker will be Cindy Myers-Morrison, who is donating to “On Foot: Brooklyn” because she believes in Shepard and his work. “I feel good about being a donor,” she said. “I always encourage people to follow their dreams, live out their goals, and accomplish the goals they set for themselves. Craig is doing that.”
Shepard’s objective is to create a meaningful piece of work that will motivate the participants to follow through on their own ideas. “I would hope that people might be inspired to make changes in their lives,” he said. “It could be a small change. They could make one small change to empower themselves and do something they’re dreaming about.”
To join the walk, email firstname.lastname@example.org.