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North Wind brings tech, new music to WMPAC



First installation in fall miniseries

By Michael Somerby EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – On Oct. 1, Ray Li, aka North Wind, dazzled Big Sky audiences at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center with his unique synthesis of technology, kinetics and music.

Dubbed a “virtual reality DJ,” Li, who earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics and applied physics from world-renowned Cornell University, plied that expertise in the niche science of creating a one-of-a-kind sound system that incorporates DJ’s traditional tools—sound pad, keyboard, foot pedals, dials and knobs—with a motion sensor that allows the Las Vegas-native to use simple hand movements to warp sound.

North Wind, declared a “Renaissance-level” creative by the Discovery Channel, was the first in an inaugural fall miniseries at WMPAC designed to bolster a traditionally quieter time in Big Sky.

For John Zirkle, WMPAC’s executive director, programs are about building an artistic infrastructure that nurtures culture and patrons of all walks, setting the stage for a consistency that audiences can rely on for years to come.

“As the town grows, so too should that mission and focus on infrastructure,” Zirkle said. “Fall is something we’ve been looking at experimenting with over years.”

“We had 150 people in the theater, which was a huge success for an Oct. 1 performance,” he added. “Not only did it feel like a really full crowd for this time of the year, but it was quite a diverse crowd, with more than a handful visiting the WMPAC for the very first time … We loved [the] originality of his story, and we’re proud to have been his first stage on his first tour. The WMPAC sets the stage for creativity in Big Sky, Montana. I’d say mission accomplished.”

Be sure to catch the second fall miniseries installment, “The Cashore Marionettes,” on Saturday, Oct. 12 featuring puppeteer Joseph Cashore who has been performing for more than 30 years and is considered one of the premier practitioners of the art form.

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