Unique sound chapel to combine music and astronomy

Georges Lentz and Oliver Miller were in Cobar last week to discuss plans to turn Silver Tank into a Sound Chapel.

The dream of music composer Georges Lentz to create a Sound Chapel in Cobar could become a reality by the end of next year.

Mr Lentz has been working on the project for some time and has been liaising with Mayor Lilliane Brady for a number of years to find a suitable location in Cobar.

When he first visited in 2008 with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Mr Lentz said he instantly liked the town and its people.

“I love the outback, love the red dirt, and the silence of the country,” Mr Lentz said.

He said it’s the outback and also his avid interest in astronomy that provides him with the inspiration for his music.

The aim of the Sound Chapel is to be a peaceful space where people can listen to music while gazing at the sky.

“It’s possibly not something for everyone.

“The idea is a bit out there maybe to some people, but I’m sure it will really appeal to others,” he said.

An abandoned water tank 4km from town at the Chalky (off the Wilcannia Road) known as Silver Tank has been chosen as the site for the Cobar Sound Chapel.

“It has a wonderful feel about it. It’s an old rusty water tank from the 40s or 50s and about 10 metres high and 10 metres in diameter,” Mr Lentz said.

He said the tank is “beautifully resonant” and has good natural acoustics.

Mr Lentz said he is looking forward to working with award winning and world renowned architect Glenn Murcutt, who will be designing the Sound Chapel.

“He’s very keen to design something very simple. It will be a cube structure inside the existing water tank that will house this permanent sound installation,” Mr Lentz said

The chapel itself will be only be a small space, about five metres by five metres with an open roof, which Mr Lentz said will enable the music to “spill out into nature”.

“I think it can become very special and the architect thinks so too,” he said.

Over the past six years Mr Lentz has been working with musician friend Oliver Miller and The NOISE string quartet to create the music that will be played in the Sound Chapel.

It includes pre-recorded improvisations and notated music, some of which was created in the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House.

“It’s a musical canvas,” Mr Lentz said.

The piece is about seven hours long, and will run on a loop, day and night in the Sound Chapel, even if no one is there.

Mr Lentz estimates the cost of the project to be between $100,000 to $200,000 and said it will be funded through private sponsors in Sydney and possibly some State Government funding.

Cobar Shire councillors voted in principle to support the Cobar Sound Chapel project at last Thursday’s December meeting.

Council’s director of planning and environmental services, Garry Ryman provided an outline of the project to councillors and said it  provided an opportunity to establish a unique attraction in Cobar.

He said it is essentially an adaptive reuse for an abandoned water tank.

Mr Ryman said the title for the land is currently held by the Minister for Public Works but could be transferred to council.

Council could then elect to offer Mr Lentz a licence to use the site.

“The project in my view is both culturally and artistically complex, but simple to implement,” Mr Ryman said.