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Abstract spectacle a celebration of fun

  • Squonk Opera will bring its show Cycle Sonic to Main Street in Concord, N.H. on May 6, 2017. J.Altdorfer Photography—Courtesy of John Altdorfer

  • Squonk Opera will bring its show Cycle Sonic to Main Street in Concord, N.H. on May 6, 2017. —Courtesy of John Altdorfer

  • Squonk Opera will bring its show Cycle Sonic to Main Street in Concord on Saturday. Courtesy of John Altdorfer



Monitor staff
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The idea came about with the thought, “bikes are fun.”

Then, the challenge was how to do a show on bikes, said Squonk Opera Artistic Director Steve O’Hearn. 

Squonk has figured it out, and you can see the results Saturday in the two Cycle Sonic shows on North Main Street in Concord, outside the State House.

The problem was that Squonk musicians need their hands (and sometimes their feet) to play their instruments, which makes riding a bike difficult. 

The solution was to build double-decker bikes with the musicians elevated on a platform above bike riders. 

Five musicians and five riders and technicians will be coming to the Granite State for the show. 

The platform bicycles sprout horns, faces, whirligigs, whistles and bells, powered by the cyclist.

Cycle Sonic contains six movements set to music. O’Hearn said the show isn’t really a story.

An “abstract spectacle” is how O’Hearn described the show, similar to a circus. 

The performance celebrates the resurgence of bicycles as urban transportation. 

Squonk was invited to perform Cycle Sonic to connect with the Big Bicycle art project organized by the Kimball Jenkins Estate and the Mill Brook Gallery.

The show changes depending on where it is performing because of the difference in geographies Squonk finds itself. 

O’Hearn said the show needs about 60 by 60 feet of relatively flat space.

Starting two months ago for Concord, Squonk first looked at using the sidewalk at City Plaza. However, it wasn’t quite big enough and trees overhead hung down too far. 

Then, they looked at doing a moving parade down the road, but that plan was scrapped, too. 

The final decision was to have the show stationary in the road facing down Main Street outside the State House. The cobblestone median will be an unusual feature Squonk will have to deal with, O’Hearn said.

From this angle, people will be able to view the show all the way down Main Street. 

Wondering how it all works? Linger after the shows for a workshop.

Squonk has been performing post-industrial performances for more than 20 years under the guidance of O’Hearn and composer Jackie Dempsey.  

Their work has been called surreal and hallucinatory; so it’s probably one of those things you’re going to want to check out in person.

Shows will be at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. However, in the case of inclement weather, shows could be moved up, delayed or canceled. Visit capitalartsfest.com for updates.