A steep set of stairs off a sidewalk plaza at Central Park West and 106th Avenue leads as much as the Nice Hill, an expansive patch of grass surrounded by thick woods and winding paths. I dwell close by and go there typically, particularly throughout these largely homebound days. In reality, solely in Manhattan may such a modest hill go for “nice.” But these 77 steps provide a dramatic entrance to a secluded house.
That drama was richly enhanced on Friday, after I climbed whereas listening to “Soundwalk,” an audio expertise created by the composer Ellen Reid, with recorded music by members of the New York Philharmonic, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and the jazz group Poole and the Gang. Obtainable by means of a free app, “Soundwalk” has been tailored to all 840 acres of Central Park. As you stroll, varied musical “cells,” as Ms. Reid calls them, are triggered by your location. So every stroll ends in a special piece.
On Friday, as quickly as I began up the steps, mellow sustained strings blended right into a mattress of wistful, tremulous chords, which swelled and subsided in quantity and depth. All of a sudden a horn flourish burst forth, simply animated sufficient to seize my consideration, although not aggressive. A mournful trumpet and elusive flute joined in, suggesting the bucolic, wistful aspect of Copland, although with flintier harmonies.
Some parts of Ms. Reid’s music ended up feeling intriguingly counterintuitive. As I got here to a patch of flowers in some woods, I used to be shocked to listen to a scratchy violin and bursts of nervous repeated notes for woodwinds and percussion. At Lasker Pool, which was lined with algae and bustling with birds, a sluggish three-note horn motif started, a second evocative of Wagner’s “Das Rheingold.”
And so it continued as I walked by means of the North Woods space I do know properly. Coming to a cliff overlooking the Harlem Meer, passages of shimmering sonorities had been flecked with delicate harp runs and fidgety woodwinds. Rounding the north tip of the street, the music reached a second of climactic but playful exuberance — a mixture of surging Romantic crescendos and eerily angelic choral drones — till a jazz combo crept in.
Ms. Reid, whose opera “Prism” won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2019, describes herself as a composer and sound artist; “Soundwalk” is clearly extra about ambiance than about construction. But it has coherence, character and recurring motifs.
That impression was strengthened later within the day, after I entered Strawberry Fields, off 72nd Avenue, and heard that three-note “Rheingold”-esque passage once more, wafting over familiar-sounding string chords. Once I began to maneuver on, some jumpy brass riffs and pleading choral cries of “ah” grew intense, as if the music was affronted that I used to be daring to depart.
On the Bethesda Fountain, there was one other counterintuitive episode, with weighty Bruckner-like sonorities and winding melodic strands. Naturally, the balmy climate introduced competitors from individuals making music outdoors my headphones, together with a duo of drums and electrical guitar and a person with beefy voice singing (you guessed it) “New York, New York.”
John Cage would say such mingling between the within and outdoors of the app was an integral a part of “Soundwalk.” I guess Ms. Reid would agree. In any case, she folded a number of shock Easter eggs into the work: As I neared the Beethoven statue on the Mall, a recording of his “Pastoral” Symphony started.
With the pandemic kind of stopping dwell indoor performances, it is a second suited to out of doors sound walks. One other in New York, “Cairns,” written and narrated by Gelsey Bell, with music by Ms. Bell and Joseph White, takes listeners on a peaceful journey by means of Inexperienced-Wooden Cemetery in Brooklyn.
However, undeterred, the Philharmonic has additionally created the Bandwagon, a pickup truck touring by means of the town for brief out of doors live shows each weekend by means of Oct. 18. Early Friday night, after ending “Soundwalk,” I took in this system at Richard Tucker Sq. on Broadway, close to Lincoln Middle. The violinists Qianqian Li and Na Solar, the violist Katherine Greene and the cellist Patrick Jee joined the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, who conceived the sequence and carried out with the string quartet whereas standing within the mattress of the truck.
Every week the Philharmonic declares the names of the gamers and the applications for the weekend, however not the instances and areas, to keep away from attracting crowds that will make social distancing tough. However because the musicians and crew parked the truck and started unloading music stands and sound tools in Tucker Sq., the exercise drew a curious, very shocked and finally delighted crowd of 50 or so.
Mr. Costanzo, who triumphed within the title function of Philip Glass’s “Akhnaten” at the Metropolitan Opera last fall, which now feels long ago, was in fine voice and made an affable host. Of the six works, three were by composers of color, including one young American. First came a spirited movement from the 18th-century composer Joseph Boulogne’s String Quartet No. 1. In Daniel Bernard Roumain’s “Klap Ur Handz,” a stirring part of his Quartet No. 5 (“Rosa Parks”), the musicians alternately performed and clapped, with the viewers becoming a member of in.
Mr. Costanzo gave an earnest account of “Someplace” from “West Aspect Story.” He informed the viewers that, given it was the anniversary of Sept. 11, Dido’s anguished lament from Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” appeared becoming. He sang it exquisitely. Ending with the Gershwins’ “I Obtained Rhythm” proved poignant at a time once we are all enduring deprivations. “I bought rhythm, I bought music, I bought my man,” Mr. Costanzo sang. “Who may ask for something extra?”
That’s really rather a lot to have.