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The composer Alvin Curran has adapted his “Maritime Rites” installation to rivers, ports and other waters in cities including Rome, Chicago and London since the 1970s. During a performance on Thursday afternoon, part of the lively festival Make Music New York, Mr. Curran, wearing green sunglasses, sat in one of a cluster of rowboats on Central Park Lake.
He was surrounded by musicians from the West Point Band and the Montclair State University Symphonic Band, who performed this site-specific version of “Rites” while being rowed into different formations around the front end of the lake. A sizable crowd braved the sweltering heat and gathered at the edge of the Bethesda Fountain Plaza to watch the event.
The different parts of the work, which lasted about 50 minutes, segued from cacophonous to gauzy to abstract music, punctuated by snippets of tunes like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and the spiritual “Take Me to the River.” The woodwinds and brasses sometimes evoked geese and ducks. During some particularly beautiful moments, a wave of undulating ambient sounds was interspersed with mournful brass interludes.
The shimmering heat added a surreal element, particularly when a Venetian-style gondolier drifted slowly past the proceedings.