Akropolis Reed Quintet: Juan Martinez Project


Marc Mellits – Splinter
Steven Snowden – Sprocket

– Intermission –

David Biedenbender – Refraction
John Steinmetz – Sorrow and Celebration for Reed Quintet and Audience

MechAnimals is a collaborative program created by the internationally-recognized Akropolis Reed Quintet and Detroit-based metal fabrication artist and Kresge Arts Fellow, Juan Martinez. The collaboration was born from the question, “How can we continue to innovate and change our world, but still connect with each other?” The program’s featured work Sprocket, funded in part by a prestigious National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks grant, is composed by Steven Snowden for Akropolis and features a rideable percussion bicycle designed and built by Martinez with automated, pedal-powered percussion instruments including an accordion and glockenspiel. The MechAnimals concert program also features Akropolis commissions centered upon the paradox of nature and machine epitomized by Martinez’s acclaimed series of sheet metal animal bicycles. Each work balances mechanical rhythms and lyrical harmonies, including “Goat Rodeo” and “Death Metal Chicken” from David Biedenbender’s Refraction, and in closing, a work for reed quintet and audience participation by John Steinmetz entitled Sorrow and Celebration from Akropolis’ third album The Space Between, hailed as “pure gold” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Akropolis and Martinez are committed to engaging the general public in a multi-day, outdoor community residency that accentuates the togetherness found throughout communities around the country. Juan will travel to location with two of his metal animal bikes seen here, as well as the percussion bike designed for Sprocket. These bikes will be available to be ridden by the public with Juan’s personal guidance in a public gathering space most suitable. Akropolis will be present to give short, strolling pop-up performances of Sprocket and other short selections. Martinez will also lead a kids and family workshop wherein participants create musical instruments out of scrap materials sourced from the locale. The formal MechAnimals concert can be performed inside our outside. Akropolis frequently delivers educational outreach at K-12 schools and colleges and is available to deliver these events as well.

This project began as part of Akropolis’ 2019 “Together We Sound” festival in Detroit with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, and High Wire Lab. Sprocket will be premiered on June 6th, 2019 at the Wasserman Projects in Detroit, with an outdoor pop-up event featuring Martinez’s animals at the Dequindre Cut Freight Yard gathering space on June 8th.

For more information or to book the Akropolis Reed Quintet, please contact Matthew Kulas at matthew@arielartists.com or 617.213.0378.