Six years ago, while hiking rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon the first time, I discovered a profoundly spectacular location with interesting acoustics. A wooden footbridge crossed a chasm, forming a convenient stage, with sheer rock walls ascending close together towards the north rim of the canyon, 2000′ overhead. The Kaibab trail is even, in spots, blasted as a “C” shaped ledge into a sheer-vertical cliff face. It is the largest and most topographically interesting space I’ve ever gotten to sing in.
What stood out, to my ears, was the unusual quiet and echo. It is free of almost any noise, except the sounds of small ground squirrels or birds traipsing in the underbrush. But when a sound was made, the echoes were unusually distinct and lively. Echoes would echo, and echo, and it seemed you could hear the fourth or fifth reflection of a handclap. I stopped and whistled for a few minutes, and remember thinking to myself, wistfully:
“If only I had my cello”.
Six years passed. A time of incredible growth and flux, and now I find myself living on the west coast, theoretically within a day’s drive of this spot. (13 hours from the San Francisco bay). The idea is still high among my crowded backlog of adventures / projects / enthusiasms. And then the news arrives, that the Perseid meteor shower this year (a regular August occurrence) was expected to be unusually brilliant this year, “The brightest in a decade” even. This finally pushed the idea (of revisiting the North Kaibab trail with my Cello) from “A good idea worth doing sometime” to “A unique opportunity to do now“. I messaged a few friends to inquire if anyone wanted to go, and join me in a middle-of-the-night cello recital on a footbridge in the canyon, beneath the brightest meteor shower of a decade. Many were interested but could not attend due to prior commitments, or the extreme driving:hiking ratio (near 2:1). but the invite met an enthusastic “yes” from a friend who, it turns out, was more apt a fellow adventurer than I could have known beforehand: not only a willing impromptu adventurer, but an aerialist/gymnast/theatrical producer, with extraordinary insights and ideas about unconventional audience/performer relationships.