Amplified Bicycle

Mallet On the second night of the recent Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival, cellist Theresa Wong played an amplified bicycle, in a performance that brought many in the house to tears. Wong, who studies performance at Mills College, had been playing the amplified bicycle prior to having known of Matthew or his death. I had been storing the bicycle from which Matthew was struck in our garage for quite some time.

After the performance, I offered Matthew’s bicycle to Theresa to use as her instrument; she accepted. I spent Saturday afternoon getting the wheels rolling again, chain disentangled, brake pads unstuck, and cleaning up the road grit. Rested my hands on the grips – the last things Matthew ever touched – and took the bike for a spin, meditating on his life. Sunday I delivered the bike to Theresa’s Oakland loft.

Theresa found the bike resonant, full of surprising sounds. After a few minutes of orientation, she improvised a piece for Matthew. A wild dove had been hanging out in the loft for a few days, and we imagined it to be Matthew’s visiting spirit.

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