The Gem Bethel, ME
Sound Artist, Shenandoah National Park Artist-in-Residency
Songcatcher— The art of sound
Sound artist Dianne Ballon introduces listeners to the beauty and the richness of sound through the recordings she made during her residency at the Shenandoah National Park. She shares the stories behind the sounds, including the difficulties of field recording and unexpected moments on the trail.
The Gem Bethel, ME
A musicologist travels to Appalachia and makes the discovery of a lifetime.
In 1907, Dr. Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer), a professor of musicology, is denied a promotion at the university where she teaches. Disappointed, she impulsively visits her sister (Jane Adams), who runs a struggling rural school in Appalachia. There, she stumbles upon the discovery a lifetime: a treasure trove of ancient Scots-Irish ballads, songs that have been handed down from generation to generation, preserved intact by the seclusion of the mountains. With the goal of securing her promotion, Lily ventures into the most isolated areas of the mountains to collect the songs and finds herself increasingly enchanted—not only by the rugged purity of the music, but also by the raw courage and endurance of the local people as they carve out meaningful lives against the harshest conditions. It is not, however, until she meets Tom (Aidan Quinn)—a handsome, hardened war veteran and talented musician—that she's forced to examine her motivations. Is the "Songcatcher," as Tom insists, no better than the men who exploit the people and extort their land?
About the Speaker
Dianne Ballon is a sound artist. Her sound works have aired on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. She was awarded a Maine Artist Fellowship from the Maine Arts Commission. During her Artist-in-Residency at Shenandoah National Park, she created a sound portrait for the park. At the Goethe Institute, she presented her sound installation Musical Instrument Dreams. At the Newseum, she produced audio for the national exhibition The Marines and Tet: The Battle That Changed the Vietnam War. For an international radio art competition, she was awarded for her field recording of boats creaking at a dock in Iceland. She produces audio for 3-D PhotoWorks, a company that creates fine art for museums that is accessible to the blind through touch and sound. For over ten years, she was a member of the teaching and production staff at the National Audio Theatre Festivals. At the University of Maine at Augusta, she taught audio production and radio theatre. Currently, she teaches audio to podcasters and producers through the Podcast Garage in Boston and the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies at Maine College of Art.