From Cathedral (2001) to The Walkings (2014)
The Walkings more or less began in 2000 when composer Bill Duckworth and media artist Nora Farrell invited me to create a character called The Chroincler for a live performance and web-based project called Cathedral. They had already conceived of an evolving narrative, imagery and an interactive concept for Cathedral. The work was thoroughly collaborative, though Bill largely wrote the music, and Nora developed the web materials. From about 1999 they produced  a few concerts and invited musicians to play in what would become The Cathedral Band. Bill and Nora’s idea was to produce an enduring, on-going mythic framework – of music, song, imagery and ideas - that could weave together concerts, recordings, web-based sites and interactive platforms for events that revolved around selected historical, as they called them, mystical moments in time.    
My role was to write for the website – poems, narratives, sayings – and perform live as a spoken word artists in concerts. The band featured exceptional musicians, including legendary trombonist, Stuart Dempster, keyboard player, “Blue” Gene Tyranny and  DJ Tamara (then from Seattle). When the band played in Tokyo, New York or Australia, local musicians were invited to join in. For the music and sound, Bill and Nora had composed an extensive range of compositions and a web-based instrument called The Pitchweb, which allowed on-line audiences to contribute sonic material to the performance (Bill wrote about Cathedral and music for the web in his book Virtual Music: How the Web Got Wired for Sound. Routledge, 2005).
The grand, mythic narrative of Cathedral relates how there were Five Mystical Moments in human history when astonishing projects occurred that could only be understood from diverse perspectives yet still remain inexplicable.  Science, the arts, mysticism, belief, politics, historical collisions are all present in the five moments that cross the great sweep of human life: the construction of the Pyramids at Giza, the building of the Cathedral Chartres, the event of the Ghost Dances in the American West and Southwest in the 1890s, the explosion of the first atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico and the founding of the world wide web in Geneva, Switzerland in 1989.

As The Chronicler, I performed as a talkative. often dazed time-traveller, who was present at each of the mystical moments and felt compelled to relate what had occurred. As a storyteller and informed though reluctant observer, The Chronicler’s often spoke cryptically. His sayings, “It’s all relation, you’ll hear that again” and “He was a witness, but he should not have been. Like you” reveal that he, too, was uncertain about this role or the meaning of the events he had witnessed.
Though never officially concluding as a live performance or with an on-line presence, Cathedral led to another elaborate project that began in 2004. Called iOrpheus Bill and Nora undertook to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the performance of what is regarded as the first opera, Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo in 2007.  The plan involved a series of 24 podcasts, a performance of a piece (The iPod Opera) with the Cathedral Band on February 24, 2007, the exact date of the premiere of Orfeo.  This was followed by iOrpheus, a large scale day-long outdoor processional performance – with dancers, various ensembles and sound/space installations - in Brisbane, Australia. The Chronicler, of course, was at Orpheus and Eurydice’s wedding and he followed Orpheus through his descent into the underworld and travels on Earth, until he was torn apart by Thracian women.  (In a 2014 article titled, “Orpheus and Eurydice in Performance in the 21st Century,” published after the Istanbul Conference, Myths Revisited, I reviewed iOrpheus and other contemporary versions of the myth.)  
All of Bill and Nora’s conceptions happened essentially as planned, along with other projects, and more were in the works. I knew Bill since the 1980s, we talked often and spent time together when our schedules allowed.  A few years ago he told me about his contact with a producer in Beijing who wanted to arrange for a version of iOrpheus on the streets, with thousands of performers.
Bill had been writing music and books for decades. He married Nora in the mid-1990s. Her knowledge of music, digital technology and the internet was an inspiration for their collaborations. By 2011, Bill was set to retire from Bucknell University, where he taught since 1973.  In his last semester, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and immediately started painful, uncertain treatments.  He died September 13, 2012. The Walkings is dedicated to my friends, Bill Duckworth and Nora Farrell.
Bill was one of my closest friends and a collaborator who passed away on October 13, 2012 after a two years of pancreatic cancer.  I had been working on The Walkings at that time and it is dedicated to him and his wife, Nora.