Sounds of Musical Sculpture Return at Last to Kendall 'T' Station

To mark the opening of the rebuilt Kendall/MIT station in 1987, the MBTA installed a three-piece musical sculpture by Groton artist Paul Matisse between the outbound and inbound platforms, where it provided entertainment for tens of thousands of passengers who could activate it by moving wall-mounted handles. But years of heavy use and the sculpture's intricate mechanics eventually rendered each piece silent, despite Matisse's painstaking efforts to keep his creation working.

In 2010, a commuter named Seth Parker decided the music needed to be heard again, and set in motion a series of events that led to the formation of the "Kendall Band Preservation Society," a group of MIT students under the leadership of instructor Mike Tarkanian, who spent a year disassembling, cleaning, fixing and reassembling the largest and most complicated of the pieces, a set of pipe-like bells and mallets Matisse named "Pythagoras." On April 30, 2011, a rededication ceremony marked the first time in years that its tones could be heard ringing out again, to the accompaniment of musicians from MIT.

Tarkanian's students still have to restore the other two parts of the set, "Kepler" and "Galileo," a task they plan to start this summer. However, all involved are committed to the job of maintaining the Kendall Band indefinitely. Matisse, who was at the rededication, expressed his relief and joy that the music was finally back and sounded "so beautiful."

Comments

It's great to hear Pythagoros again, and to find out about Paul Matisse and the MIT team that brought the chimes back. We owe them! Thanks for the story, and for the sound and photos that bring this unique work to life in its special habitat.
Mary H