Project Director

A Community Project

The One River Mississippi project is one unified system linking seven communities. Each audience will see a unique performance created especially for their own stretch of the river. At the same time, the audience will be hearing precisely the same music at the same moment, and will know that they are linked to the other sites by a bit of telecommunications ingenuity. At each performance site, the audience will be invited on the spot to create part of an overarching harmonious pattern of sound with all of the other communities. The members of the audience, if they wish to, will be adding their own voice to this instantaneous connection. We are indeed all living in the same great river community.

An exciting aspect of our work is that our site-specific performances involve the community on a hands-on basis. We invite people who live and work in the vicinity to be performers. Our past performances have included up to 70 performers, and the audience has been as large as 5,000. This is a powerful art that can make a bold statement, in which the community feels very involved. After the first performance on the Mississippi River in 1985, a stranger called to say, “I’m sorry if I am bothering you. I got your name out of the phone book and I just wanted to say thank you for giving the river back to the people.”

The mayor of New Orleans, C. Ray Nagin, put it best in his letter when he wrote to Hardenbergh in May 2005, voicing his support of the project,

This is a chance to strengthen the ties between our cities and awaken our consciousness to the environmental impacts associated with our existence. All too often we forget that our connection to the earth is a connection to each other, and these simultaneous, site-specific performances will create a sense of interconnectedness that transcends our local community relationships, reminding us that we are all one in a great, eternal whole, so we must protect and nurture our bonds.


See the whole letter



One River Mississippi

















June 24