Le Laboratoire Cambridge Adds Music to Immersive Gallery Experiences

The culture lab is hosting Ecce Ensemble in a season-long residency.

le laboratoire cambridge ecce ensemble

Ecce Ensemble’s John Aylward wrote Switch, a contemporary opera that will premiere at Le Laboratoire Cambridge. / Photo provided

Heading into its second year of programming, Le Laboratoire Cambridge is ramping up its offerings of immersive, interdisciplinary visitor experiences.

Unlike a traditional gallery, Le Lab has always managed to engage more than just the visual sense, inviting visitors to step inside a hypoxia-simulation chamber to experience the ocean’s dead zone, strap themselves into a virtual reality simulator to experience bird-like flight, or inhale vapor cocktails at its adjoining restaurant.

Now, the culture lab is adding music to its repertoire, hosting local group Ecce Ensemble in a season-long residency.

“[Le Lab founder] David Edwards likes to call us a sensorium—it’s all about the senses. This is an aural way to experience what you’re seeing,” says Carrie Fitzsimmons, Le Lab’s executive director. “It rounds out what we are very nicely.”

As part of the residency, Ecce, led by composer John Aylward, will perform music that complements exhibitions at Le Lab. On December 4, the ensemble will perform Earle Brown’s December 1952, to enhance visitors’ experiences of “Birdly,” the virtual flight simulator. In May, Ecce’s performance will accompany an upcoming exhibition by Random International, the art collective known for Rain Room, currently on view at LACMA.

“It’s a new way for both the musicians and the public to experience the space and hear new music, things they may not hear otherwise,” says Fitzsimmons.

The residency will feature a new original work as well. In February, Le Lab will host the world premiere of Switch, a contemporary opera written by Aylward, directed by Laine Rettmer, and conducted by Jean-Philippe Wurtz. Featuring two vocalists—Amanda DeBoer Bartlett and Mikhail Smigelski—backed by Ecce, it explores the relationship between an artist and his muse.

In addition to Switch performances, Ecce will host workshops at Le Lab, inviting young composers to share their work for feedback and critique.

“It’s a way of not just premiering the opera, but also a lot of programming built around it to invite different audiences in,” says Fitzsimmons.

While Ecce’s final residency performance is scheduled for May, Fitzsimmons says Le Lab is open to the possibility of continuing to work with the ensemble—as well as other music groups—in the future.

“We’re trying to open up all that we do,” she says. “We’re always looking for new ways to have inspiring experiences for our visitors.”

For performance schedules and tickets, visit lelaboratoirecambridge.com.