William Close and the Earth Harp Collective
William Close is an installation artist, musician and visionary who has developed over one hundred new musical instruments including the famed Earth Harp. The body of the Earth Harp rests on the stage while the strings travel over the audience, extending up to 1000 ft. in length, and attach to the back of the venue, turning every space into an instrument. William’s celebrated Earth Harp earned him a finalist slot on NBC’s America’s Got Talent and was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as creating and holding the record for the world’s largest stringed instrument.
Standing at the crossroads of music and art, The Earth Harp incorporates and explores the connection between sculpting, architecture and sound design. Inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright quote “architecture is frozen music”, William creates musical installations that use the architecture as part of the instrument. The Earth Harp strings have stretched to the top of the Seattle Space needle, to temples in Vietnam, in the famous Grand Theater of Macau, the Coliseum in Rome, Shanghai’s Grand Theater, Sao Paulo’s Theatro Muncipal and Qatar’s Dhow Harbour. Additionally, it has draped over amazing architecture in Hong Kong, India, and the Lincoln Center in the United States, it was featured as part of a Super Bowl VIP Tailgate Party, and has been played at major U.S. festivals like Coachella, Bumbershoot, Burning Man and Lighting in a Bottle. William has designed at least two permanent Earth Harp installations, one as part of Cirque du Soleil’s show KA at the MGM Las Vegas, the other as part of a 1,300-seat theater aboard the Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Quantum of the Seas.
“It’s an instrument unlike anything Bach or Beethoven could have ever imagined. The entire concert hall has been recruited as an echo chamber to create a unique, ethereal sound,” raved The New York Times. VICE’s Noisey describes the experience as “Exploring the intersection of architecture and music…the audience literally sits inside the belly of the harp as it is played.”
The Earth Harp was built and developed by William Close, a New York native and alumni at the Art Institute of Chicago. While studying at the Institute, Close realized, in order to succeed, he had to do something that no one else had done. An avid musician who played in garage bands as a teenager, he started concocting, then building, his own instruments, turning them into functioning, great-sounding entities. His background as a sailor turned him on to natural sounds – the wind whipping the sails, the sound of the rigs flapping and being pulled tight. “I’ve always seen and heard the world as an instrument,” says Close. “Just hearing nature’s tones inspires me.”
William is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Earth Harp Collective, an internationally renowned performance group that combines the creative forces of artists, musicians, dancers and aerialists.