What's On

Woman singing opera in a museum gallery, to a seated visitor

Sonic Blossom: Audition Call

The audition is at capacity, so the call for auditions has closed.

In celebration of the National Portrait Gallery’s 50th anniversary, the museum would like to invite opera students and singers to audition for a unique performance-based art project.

About the Project

Sonic Blossom by Lee Mingwei (born 1964 in Taiwan; based in New York and Paris)
Mixed-media interactive performance
(Commissioned for the inaugural exhibition of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, 2013)
This project is part of the Portrait Gallery’s performance art series IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture.

In the interactive performance Sonic Blossom, singers in a custom-designed costume approach museum visitors to offer them the gift of song. Participants will select one of five Lieder by Franz Schubert to sing and will be accompanied by a piano recording.

Lee developed the idea for this project while taking care of his sick mother. Inspired by the fact that they both found solace in listening to Schubert's Lieder, the project offers visitors the “gift” of the Lied to provide them with a moment of catharsis, joy, and connection. Sonic Blossom has been presented in cities all over the world, including Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Boston, New York, Frankfurt, and Montreal. The work was featured in “The Best in Art of 2015 (Music to My Eyes),” by Holland Cotter and Roberta Smith, and “The Best Classical Music of 2015,” by James R. Oestreich, both published in the New York Times.

For more information about Lee Mingwei, including details of his project and photos, visit www.leemingwei.com.

Exhibition / Performance Dates

Sonic Blossom will be presented at the National Portrait Gallery in April 2018. Public performances will be held Thursdays through Saturdays (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.) from April 5 through April 29. Performances will take place in the museum’s historic Great Hall and are scheduled in 2-hour shifts. Singers who can confirm availability for at least four shifts are strongly encouraged to audition. A performance assistant will support singers during each shift.

Singers selected by the audition to take part in the project will be paid. A final rehearsal and performance schedule will be posted in late March. Please rest assured that the Portrait Gallery considers good vocal health and the wellbeing of all participating singers to be among its top priorities.

Audition Details

Auditions will take place on Tuesday, February 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the National Portrait Gallery’s McEvoy Auditorium (800 G Street NW, Washington, DC). There will be a lunch break from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Please contact Kaia Black at BlackK@si.edu to schedule a 5-minute time-slot. An accompanist will be provided. The audition panel will include members of Portrait Gallery staff and the artist Lee Mingwei. You’re welcome to provide a headshot and resume at the time of the audition, but they are not required.

Please prepare at least one of the following five Schubert Lieder of your choice. You do not need to memorize your selection for the audition. For the performances, three of the five Lieder will need to be memorized.


Du bist die Ruh, D. 776
An den Mond, D. 193
Frühlingsglaube, D. 686
Nacht und Träume, D. 827
Auf dem wasser zu singen, D. 774