When a massive, old European beech tree at Somerville’s Symphony Park declined into disease, the city’s Parks and Open Space staff decided to have it cut down. But they saved the 43-inch wide trunk and partnered with the Somerville Arts Council to put out an open call for an artist to carve it. The result is “We Are Still Listening,” a carving by East Somerville sculptor Fermin Castro.
Castro reshaped the tree into a person standing playing a lyre as metal musical notes drift off into the sky. It stands at the top of the hill in this garden park, a bit like a figurehead at the prow of a ship.
The carving, Casto has said, was inspired by Hadley-Conant home, which used to occupy the site. They were a family of musicians. “Had you walked by the house in the 1880s, you likely would have heard the sounds of piano, violin and cello as Samuel Henry Hadley played classical works with his two sons, who grew up to be notable musicians,” according to a sign at the park. “Hadley, like his father, was a music teacher in the Somerville schools. His wife, Martha Conant, was musically involved with their church. Together, they nurtured two musical sons: Arthur enjoyed a career as a renowned cellist and Henry Kimball Hadley became a conductor in both concert halls and Hollywood, and one fo the most performed and published American composers of his time.”
Castro previously carved a deceased tree in Somerville’s Marshall Street playground into his sculpture “Homage to Mother and Child.”
The new carving carries on the musical theme of Symphony Park, which debuted in 2015 with benches and arbors designed to evoke musical notation.
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