Inside Bowerbird: Q&A with Founder and Director Dustin Hurt


Sound Machines: Zwei Mann Orchester performance. Photo by Bob Sweeney. 

How are cultural leaders and practitioners addressing artistic and organizational challenges today? And how do they make room for creative and institutional growth, while facing shifting audience expectations and consumer behaviors? In this series of interviews with Center grantees, we offer a look inside the organizational and artistic practices of many of Philadelphia’s leading cultural institutions and practicing artists, their distinct characters, aspirations, and more.

Here, we speak to Dustin Hurt, founder and director of Bowerbird, whose Center-funded project, Sound Machines: Kagel's Zwei Mann Orchester, was on view in May of 2018 in an exhibition and performances at Drexel University’s Pearlstein Gallery. The centerpiece of the exhibition was a large-scale kinetic sound sculpture conceived by Kagel that utilizes orchestral instruments, and household and found objects, connected through a network of levers and strings to encourage the viewer to imagine the hidden sound potential. This edition marked the US premiere of the work and only the fourth version ever created.

In the interview that follows, Hurt talks with us about his interest in experimental music and Bowerbird’s various cross-disciplinary projects.

Bowerbird Q&A: Content Block 1

Bowerbird Q&A: Content Block 2

Bowerbird Q&A: Content Block 3


Julius Eastman singing, November 1, 1970. Photo by Jim Tuttle. Courtesy of Bowerbird.

You’ve collaborated with artists internationally. Outside of the region, where do you look for inspiration? Who do you see as your peers and why?

I just got back from Berlin, where I participated in a number of events related to Julius Eastman organized by MaerzMusik and Savvy Contemporary. I feel that their artistic directors, Berno Odo Polzer and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, are leading some really interesting work around not just cross-disciplinary projects, but also experimenting with concert formats and spaces.

Do you have other upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about?

We are just about to announce the lineup for our summer Double Decker Music Series. This is a series we organize with Sebastian Petsu, where the concerts happen on top of a double decker bus as it’s driving around the city. It has to be the best way to spend a summer evening.

Also in June, Bowerbird's resident new music group, Arcana, has two concerts: June 8, featuring the music of James Tenney, and on June 30, we're doing a program featuring the music of Moondog.

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