Work » Projects » between the smell of dust and moonlight 2020

between the smell of dust and moonlight (2016/20) engages with the idea of the gradual evolution of space and the multiple roles it may serve. Commissioned by the Metropolis Ensemble in 2016 specifically for the Philips Collection, the piece draws on its present incarnation as renowned art museum as well as the traces of its domestic past, as evidenced by it unique doorways and fireplaces.

For the premiere performance, the multi-movement work was dispersed through multiple rooms of the Phillps Museum, with three separate trios staged in different areas. Additionally, the Metropolis Ensemble navigates the museum as part of the piece, which doubles in part as a sound installation, with recordings placed in the multiple fireplaces of the space. The musicians use their instruments to interact with the space and archival recordings from the time period of the museum’s founding, as well as recent field recordings. The performers perform on a wide variety of recording formats as well, from early 78s played back on DIY phonographs, to dictaphones, and to transducers resonating through percussion instruments. The audience, beginning in the Music Room, was encouraged to follow the musicians on their various paths and to listen in on different spaces, before returning to the Music Room for the final trio.

The separate movements of between the smell of dust and moonlight have been excerpted for separate performance. The most recent of these was the final trio, which was rerecorded and reorchestrated with video for the online performance organized by Metropolis Ensemble entitled Free Assembly.

The title is drawn from Don Hertzfeldt’s film It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Special thanks to Andrew Cyr, Nestor Prieto for his technical and research assistance, as well as to Erik DeLuca for his experiments with early recording technologies.


Metropolis Ensemble · Andrew Cyr, Artistic Director