Artpark's Percussion garden

Located in the Lower Park (see map) 


Each element of the Percussion Garden presents playful opportunities for visitors to explore the different ways to interact and produce sound while posing curious questions on the nature of a performance, music-making and relationships within the natural environment of the park:

Gong Temple- Musical Architecture Study by William Close

Chime Sprouts by Vanessa Lee Jackson

Beat Blossom by Shasti O'Leary Soudant in collaboration with Cyro Baptista 

SwingSet by David Cossin 

Chime Tree by David Cossin 

Earth Drums by Glenn Kotche

Scorpiotron by Dave Hind 

Make it Rain TeeterTotter by Julian Majewski

Lawn Chair by Tanis Winslow, Stephanie Kowalski, Jasper Reese and The Adventure Department 

The Percussion Garden has been made possible by a generous gift from the Charles D. and Mary A. Bauer Foundation.


World’s finest drumsticks, drum brushes and percussion accessories. Supporting the arts for 60 years. 



Gong Temple - Musical Architecture Study
by William Close, 2018
This interactive sonic sculpture is inspired by various structures found around the world that are created specifically to house Gongs, Giant Bells, and resonant sound. Using resonant aluminum tubes I have created a sort of three-dimensional line drawing of an interpretation of an Asian temple to become the structure to house these beautiful gongs. The gongs come from China.
Gongs are amazing instruments. It is said that within the crescendo of a large gong all frequencies can be heard. Also known as “white noise”. Other places in nature that white noise occurs is in the roar of a rushing river or in the cashing of waves on a beach. It is powerful full frequency sound!
Playing the Gongs: Start tapping or striking the gong gently. This warms up the Gong and produces amazing harmonics and tones. If you want to hear the crescendo strike the gong a bit hander and listen the white noise open up almost like a giant musical flower. Feel the power of the gong as it resonates through the world and into your body. It is a great experience. Please remember they are musical instruments so be gentle with them.  It is an honor to play an amazing gong.


Please do not climb on Gong Temple. It was not designed to be a jungle gym.

Gong Temple is generously supported by The Rupp Foundation.

William Close has been creating new instruments for over 20 years and has invented over 100 new musical designs. He conceptualizes, designs and builds these musical inventions. In most cases he plays the inventions, though William often has other talented musicians play and perform with the instruments as they find often new ways and styles of creating music with the new instruments! His instruments are featured in all Earth Harp Collective Concerts. His most notable instrument is the Earth Harp, it is the largest stringed instrument on the planet. It was developed by William Close in 1999. The body of the instrument rests on the stage and the strings travel out over the audience attaching to the back of the theater, turning the theater / concert hall, architecture and landscape into the instrument. The giant long strings are played with violin rosin covered gloves. The player runs their hands along the strings creating beautiful cello like tones. The reason it is titled the Earth Harp is due to the fact that the first time it was installed, the strings ran from one side of a valley 1,000 feet across to the other side, turning the Earth / landscape into a giant harp. The Earth Harp has been installed around the world. The strings have stretched to the top of the Seattle Space needle, to temples in Vietnam, in the famous Grand Theater of Macau and the Coliseum in Rome. Additionally, it has draped over amazing architecture in Hong Kong, India, and to the Kennedy Center and Lincoln center in the United States.


William studied sculpture and sound design at the Art Institute of Chicago. His unique combination of sculpture, music and installation art blossomed into a new genera of music making designs. His installations and performances have been experienced throughout the world. William Close is an installation artist and musician. Some of Close's other instruments include the Drum Orb, the Percussion Jacket, the Aquatar, and the Wing harp. William Close is also the Founder and Artistic Director of MASS Ensemble. MASS is an acronym for music architecture sound and sculpture. The group works with Close's unique designs to create music based stage shows that push the envelope of the musical experience.


Close’s work explores the connection between architecture and music. Inspired by the quote “architecture is frozen music”, Close creates musical installations that use the architecture as part of the instrument. He has developed two Symphonic houses working with architects to build the musical instruments into the architecture.

Chime Sprouts
by Vanessa Lee Jackson, 2018
Chime Sprouts is an installation of sound and movement, that is activated by the wind or user. The organic shapes that house the brass chimes stem directly from the earth, to evoke plants sprouting from the ground, like trees or tall grass that magically have the capability of simmering sound when touched by the breeze.
Our senses tend to have a bolder reaction to sound in regard to sight and by emphasizing the movement of the wind through the natural materiality of brass metal and solid wood becomes a melodic representation of the invisible movement of the wind.
Since the user can also play a role in the musicality of these art-objects, the touch received by the chimes becomes a collaboration between individual and the air. By noticing the force of the wind as equivalent to our own energies we can restore a connection with nature that perhaps has been lost.
Vanessa Lee Jackson is an artist, designer and craft enthusiast based in Toronto, Ontario. Vanessa creates custom furniture, objects and sculpture using the various mediums of wood, metal, textiles, concrete, dye and paint to arrive at eclectic contemporary designs. Drawn towards surreal, organic shapes, Vanessa seeks to create a balancing point between function and décor within her art-objects.
Beat Blossom
by Cyro Baptista in collaboration with Shasti O'Leary Soudant, 2017
Supported by 

BEAT BLOSSOM is the product of a collaboration with famed percussionist Cyro Baptista, whose free-spirited, community-centered practice inspires its whimsical and colorful UFO-like appearance.

Additionally influenced by the Indonesian Gamelan, this structure's lively appearance encloses seven 'sound-making stations’ which invite multiple viewers into the center of the piece, offering them an immersive opportunity to engage in an ongoing collaboration with the artists by playing and experimenting with the various percussion instruments as an ensemble.

There is no wrong way to play BEAT BLOSSOM. Simply enter, and start banging, the more the merrier!

-Shasti O'Leary-Soudant




Chime Tree
by David Cossin, 2016

"In creating works for this Percussion Garden, I wanted to create instruments and experiences that could be powered by various elements.  Some of the instruments are people powered.  They have a definitive beginning and end, or on/off switch.  This particular instrument is powered by nature; specifically wind and rain.  There is no definite human influenced beginning and end to the sound experiences of this instrument.  Rather the sound experience is at the behest of the natural." David Cossin


by David Cossin, 2016
Photo by Pavel Antonov

SwingSet is an interactive sonic installation piece whose goal is to try to break the barrier between performer and audience and to present the question of what constitutes a performance. I want to invite the creativity of the perceiver by being both the performer and the listener. One of the main points to investigate is the idea of relationships. SwingSet has been conceived to explore the relationship between sound, time and space. The perception of the environment, the texture of the sounds and their timing, the visual impact of the shadows will be enriched and altered by the choice of an awakened participant. Can a specific sound take on the identity of an interval of time? The space and the structure of the piece will constantly be altered by the initiative (or the lack of initiative) of the public. 


How to Play: SwingSet is an instrument and a composition that could take place at any moment and be performed by anyone (a never-ending piece). SwingSet consists of 10 large suspended aluminum pipes. There are clocks attached to each set, which consists of two pipes. The color of the suspended pipe (white or black/left or right) corresponds with the colored points on the clock. When the hand of the clock touches the colored points you may choose to strike (or not strike) the pipe at any dynamic (loud or soft).


David Cossin is a specialist in new and experimental music, David has worked across a broad spectrum of musical and artistic forms to incorporate new media with percussion.

David Cossin has recorded and performed internationally with composers and ensembles including the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Steve Reich and Musicians, Philip Glass, Yo-Yo Ma, Meredith Monk, Tan Dun, Cecil Taylor, Talujon Percussion Quartet, and the trio, Real Quiet.  Numerous theater projects include collaborations with Blue Man Group, Mabou Mines, and director Peter Sellars. David was featured as the percussion soloist in Tan Dun's Grammy and Oscar winning score to Ang Lee's film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.



Earth Drums
By Glenn Kotche, 2016
Photo by Pavel Antonov

An interactive experiment in archaic percussion and communication 

As a percussion-obsessed high school freshman, I remember sitting in the school library reading the only book on percussion available, James Blades' Percussion Instruments and Their History.  For some reason a paragraph on the origin of membrane drums stuck in my mind all these years.  Blades posited the notion that the earliest membrane drums were most likely animal skins staked and stretched over holes in the ground for drying purposes that were then accidentally discovered to be useful for sound making.  

I thought it might also be fun to incorporate the practice of using drums as a means of communication as well.  This practice was particularly common along the Congo River in Africa where the high and low sounds of membrane drums would imitate the native tongues allowing drummers to send complex messages from village to village. 

For this interactive exhibit, we've assembled two sets of drums - each with one low-pitched drum and one higher-pitched drum.  I invite you to communicate between the two sets of drums via Morse code.  For our purposes the low drum will be dashes while the high drum will be dots.  Please refer to the charts for explanations on how Morse code works and for assistance in sending a simple message - or just enjoy banging on a buried drum.  Please do not use the drums as a trampoline or table for drinks though!


Glenn Kotche is best known for his Grammy winning percussion work with the band Wilco.  He has treated the drum set as a multiple percussion instrument including homemade instruments, pitched percussion, and various found objects. His other work includes writing music for Kronos Quartet, So Percussion, the Silk Road Ensemble, Bang On A Can All-Stars, and many more. Glenn Kotche:



By Julian Michael Majewski, 2016

A very unique teeter-totter largely constructed out of recycled, repurposed, and scavenged materials. The piece was made to belong within the public space for people to use and interact with. In respect to viral culture and social networking, social indicators are provided in an attempt to direct the flow of images videos etc of those who interact with the piece.  

OCAD University's graduate, Julian's work largely employs the use of prolonged interactions with an object that I have created, further transforming it and facilitating an adaption towards a new use. The common thread in my work is my own material investigation and experimentation. The aim is for a piece to have the appearance of functionality, made with raw materials; further becoming isolated as a product of fine art through its transformation and the association with artistic intervention. In that manner, my work could be viewed as creative visuals that depict contemporary inquiries.



Lawn Chair 
by Tanis Winslow, Stephanie Kowalski, Jasper Reese, and The Adventure Department, 2016
Photo by Pavel Antonov

Lawn Chair is an interactive collaboration and site specific work that is meant to encourage the viewer to sit and relax in a seat made of sod.  In making this work, comfort was at the core of construction.  These sod sofas act as a cozy nest for those wishing to take a nap or as a meeting place for friends to sit and relax.  Meditate, read a book or rest, this lawn furniture will provide the loveliest of places for your person.  Enjoy the sounds of the Chime Tree overhead as you gaze upon the Niagara River.


Tanis Winslow has been the Director of Visual Arts and Family Programs for 10+ years. She is a photographer, a painter, a sculptor, an artwork installer, a teacher, and a mother of two.  Her work has been featured in galleries of NYC, Buffalo, NY and Niagara Falls, NY such as, the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Big Orbit, Burchfield Penney, Castellani Art Museum, CEPA Gallery, Gallery MC, and more.