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a landscape opera & acoustic installation

By Susie Ibarra
with the TANK Center for Sonic Arts

Testing percussion sounds of resonance and echoes in Dinosaur National Monument Park, Utah and Colorado. Playing here between 2 Jurassic Canyons at Whispering Cave in the National Park.

Experimenting with a resonance of about 40 seconds after each note inside the TANK Center for Sonic Arts cistern in Rangely, Colorado. Preparing for a 3 evening solo recording of drumset and percussion and 1 solo performance at the TANK.

I am grateful to have been in September 2022 an ear shifting Artist Residency at the TANK Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely, Southern Colorado.

Along with executive director James Paul and the TANK tech team, and my sister and artist Tessa Fuqua I went on field and in the TANK to explore sounds and possibilities…

Here are a few field photos, videos and sounds that led to the idea and conception of CHAN, a meditative, landscape opera and acoustic installation in which the San Francisco Girls Chorus and soloists will join to be recorded and filmed in 3 parts.

These are photos, video and audio
of testing sound at 
Dinosaur National Monument
Park Sites : Whispering Cave and Canyons, and the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers,  recording inside the TANK, playing 50 million year old lithophones in Fantasy Canyon, and testing resonance and echos in Dinosaur Monument.

Rehearsing inside the TANK cistern

The confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers at Dinosaur Monument National Park

Playing gongs in Dinosaur Monument and the TANK cistern

My sister and artist Tessa Fuqua testing resonance in the Jurassic Canyons of Dinosaur National Monument Park

(below) Recording pitched lithophone sandstone rocks in the 50 million year old Fantasy Canyon on the border of Utah and Colorado


(above) Playing gongs at Whispering Cave between 2 Jurassic Canyons at Dinosaur National Monument Park

Description of CHAN Opera and Installation​


Please email to for inquires and to make a donation to support the development of CHAN, through the Non-Profit Organization The TANK Center for Sonic Arts 

CHAN, a landscape opera and installation work tells sonic stories of the Earth as the Female Buddha, as Mother Nature and her eternal time and space.

This Environmental Landscape Opera will be created on Ute Land for Film, Performance, and an Installation by composer, percussionist, sound artist Susie Ibarra, with the San Francisco Girls Chorus and other instrumentalists, including flutist Claire Chase, pianist Alex Peh, and multi-instrumentalists/percussionists /field recordists Jake Landau and Phyllis Chen. We are also in discussions for a filmmaker for partnering on the project.

This production will originate in field recordings and film shoots in Northwestern Colorado and in a concert and recording session at the TANK Center for Sonic Arts in Rangely. Audio and video materials collected in this process will support a subsequent live production that will tour various venues in Denver and elsewhere.

This opera and installation was first conceived during residency at the TANK 2022, when I conducted exploratory field recording and presented the resulting work in concert. These activities developed as my composition often may, as an acoustic ecology, joining geological, biological and human culture. The work resulting from that 2022 residency, combining the natural sound, including wind, echo and river, and the profound reverberation of the Tank’s built environment, proved revelatory and spurred all the participants to consider a more ambitious work based on this first experience, with themes touching on deep time and the place of human beings in a vast and profound natural world.

Sometimes it is necessary to return to a source , to a beginning, to be able to find our way in the middle and to move forward into the future. For this environmental opera and sound installation, I am returning inside the poetic line of my personal name, while also returning to my ancestors not only who were humans, but my ancestors of environment.

My middle name, Chan, was given to me as my mothers last name by my parents and ancestors. It means to Meditate or the Act of Reflecting. Chan is also a meditation practice and in Sanskrit named Dyana, Vietmamese Thien, and Japanese Zen Buddhism. My last name, Ibarra, is Basque meaning the river that runs between Two Mountains. It is an inspiration for me for the structure of this environmental opera , which can be replicated in many forms afterwards.

The TANK Center for Sonic Arts will be the production hub and sponsoring fiscal entity for the production, with TANK Executive Director James Paul acting as co-producer on the project. Located in the high desert of Northwestern Colorado, TCSA is an unusual arts venue, organized around an empty seven-story water tank that was discovered in the 1970's to possess extraordinary acoustic resonance, a reverberation as long and rich as any in the world. The TANK is a fully-equipped recording venue and concert site, as well as a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization, incorporated in 2014.

Sites for filmed performance and field recordings will include Fantasy Canyon, 10-acre canyon containing astonishing weathered sandstone formations, located south of Vernal, Utah; Whispering Cave in Dinosaur National Monument; and Echo Park, at the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers, also in Dinosaur National Monument.

A general timeline for CHAN would see planning and initial composition beginning in the fall of 2023, rehearsals and production begin in summer, 2024, with the culminating performance and recording at the TANK in the spring of 2025 and a post-production period following.

In this moment I have gratitude to be in collaboration with the TANK and walk this meditative field , installation and performative work in the region of the southwest border of Colorado and Utah of the Uinta Mountains , former lake basins Eocene Era 50 million years ago and Jurassic park during the Jurassic Era 150 million years ago, to the current stories of the river sandstone along the confluences of the Yampa and Green River.

The opera and installation draws upon my practice of listening in acoustic ecology to geophysical, biodiverse and human culture, to create a sonic new performative work for TV and Film grounded in deep reflection and storytelling of the life of the geophysical environment in the natural and built worlds.

(below) Finishing recording Lithophones from the Eocene Era at Fantasy Canyon on the border of Utah and Colorado


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