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If it sounds like Cape Ann, he wants to know

Posted: 9/16/14

Composer collecting sounds for museum exhibit 'Portraits of a Working Waterfront'

By Gail McCarthy Staff Writer

Gloucester composer Robert Bradshaw has embarked on a project to create a Cape Ann soundscape, for which he is seeking ideas about the kinds of sounds that scream Cape Ann.

“Essentially, I am trying to find out how people ‘hear’ Gloucester and Greater Cape Ann. Then I will search out those sounds and record them for this piece. Of course, beach and ocean sounds, boats, machinery and factory sounds will be included, but Cape Ann is so much more,” said Bradshaw, who was commissioned by Cape Ann Museum.

“The more unique the sound, the better. It could be anything from an artisan working in their studio to children playing at a school playground,” said Bradshaw.

The composer, who has worked around the globe and is a professor at Salem State University, said the museum reached out to him to create an electroacoustic work based on a Cape Ann soundscape.

“In other words, I am to record everyday sounds and use them as the basis for a new composition that will be premiered at the museum at the start of the new year,” said Bradshaw. “I want people to understand their voice is important and this is a chance to share it with others. As a composer, I always have the opportunity to share my experiences through music. The vast majority of people don’t. This is one of those times where I get to open the door, so to speak, and let other people present their experiences through my work.”

This is the kind of social connection Bradshaw often cultivates in his commissions, which range from the Music of Difference project which focuses on the experience of living with a disability to social network-inspired operas that encourage discussion about how people communicate.

The resulting Cape Ann soundscape is being created in conjunction with a new exhibition at Cape Ann Museum titled “Portraits of a Working Waterfront,” which will run Oct. 11 to Feb. 1, 2015. The exhibit is comprised of 75 photographs of men and women who make their living in the nation’s oldest seaport.

Bradshaw noted that this musical work will be performed surrounded by the photographs and projections of the images.

To share an idea with the composer, visit his website at where there is a contact page; or email the composer at