University News

Sonic Divide, A Performance Art/Documentary by Music Professor Payton Macdonald, to be Screened at William Paterson University on April 3

--Film documents his 2,500-mile trek along the U.S. Continental Divide, during which he premiered 30 new works by 30 different composers

Sonic Divide, a documentary that chronicles William Paterson University music professor Payton MacDonald’s June 2016 mountain bike trip along the U.S. Continental Divide, during which he premiered 30 new works by 30 contemporary composers, will be screened on campus on Monday, April 3 at 7 p.m. The screening, in Hobart Hall 140A, is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a question and answer session with MacDonald. 

MacDonald, a percussionist and singer, combined his passions for creative music and ultra-distance mountain biking, following the 2,500-mile U.S. Great Divide Mountain Biking Route from Mexico to Canada last June.  Prior to the trip, he commissioned 30 composers to write original works that could be performed with a pair of lightweight mallets, MacDonald’s voice, and surrounding found objects.  Composers included Michael Gordon, Eve Beglarian, Elliott Sharp, Jerome Kitzke, Dan Cooper, Gene Pritsker, and Milica Paranosic, as well as William Paterson faculty members Peter Jarvis, John Link, Tim Newman, Kevin Norton, Anton Vishio, and David Weisberg.

Each time the route crossed the Continental Divide, MacDonald dismounted from his bike and performed a composition, using video and audio recording devices to document his experience.  During his more than month-long journey, MacDonald climbed more than 200,000 vertical feet, traversing mountaintops, deserts, forests, and off-road terrains to physically and artistically accomplish the feat. He carried all his own supplies including food, tools, camping gear, and camera equipment, pedaling as much as 130 miles per day.

The documentary features interviews with the composers, other riders, trail angels, a geographer, and Michael McCoy, who created the U.S. Great Divide Mountain Biking Route. It also features a song, “The Tunnel,” by William Paterson pop music major Nicky Costabile and a composition by alumnus Travis Salim ’15. Dominick Michele ’14 served as sound editor, Joseph Diaz ’13 provided editing, and William Paterson University instruction and research technology staff Greg Mattison, Rhoderick Holliday and Henry Heinitsh provided technical assistance.

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