Build it, play it at the Bennington Museum

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BENNINGTON — Maverick composer Gunnar Schonbeck built 10-foot banjos, drums made out of airplane fuselages, and hundreds of triangular cellos, bell sets and oversized xylophones. Over a teaching career of more than 25 years at Bennington College, Schonbeck amassed this oversized "Instrumentarium" in the attic of the College's Commons, where he also conducted giant "collages" — spectacles that involved dance, song, and audience participations on his homebuilt creations. He died in 2005, and over the next decade his instruments made their way to Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, where they are regularly played at the Bang on a Can Festival, as well as by any visitor to the museum.

On March 9, the Bennington Museum will host a Music at the Museum experience that combines the spirit of Schonbeck's original collaborative productions with fun, hands-on instrument building. At 2 p.m. in the Ada Paresky Education Center and Paul Paresky Court of the museum, when Nick Brooke (faculty, Bennington College) Webb Crawford (Bennington College graduate) and Mark Stewart (founding member of Bang on a Can All Stars) present an Instrument building workshop where the audience members build the instruments, then use those instruments to participate in an improvisational performance conducted by Mark Stewart.

An instrument-building workshop at 2 p.m. will be led by Crawford and Brooke. Both musicians will help audience members create the arsenal of wind, string, and mallet instruments. At 3 p.m., guests will join in the concert as Stewart amasses these new instruments (plus a few others, borrowed from the Schonbeck Instrumentarium), in a communal jamboree, "Collage #3571 1/2: A Schonbeck Experience," reminiscent of Schonbeck's collages.

Any and all ages can participate, and are encouraged to, in this celebration of Schonbeck's festive legacy. This concert is free and open to the public thanks to the support of Alison Nowak and Robert Cane. Reservations are not required for this performance.

Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main St., Bennington. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday, closed Wednesday through May, and open daily June through October (closed July 4.) It is wheelchair accessible. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students, museum members, or to visit the museum shop. Visit the museum's website www.benningtonmuseum.org or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

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