Carnegie Mellon University
April 23, 2014

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Masters of Fine Arts Students Create "For The Birds" Visual Symphony for National Aviary

Contact: Pam Wigley / 412-268-1047 /
               Lauren Goshinski / 412-268-1533 /

For the BirdsPITTSBURGH—Two Masters of Fine Arts students in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Art have created and directed "For the Birds," a visual symphony designed for the National Aviary's Helen M. Schmidt FliteZone(tm) Theatre in celebration of International Migratory Bird Day.

Daniel Allende and Tucker Marder said the collaboration aims to inspire a new perspective on and respect for the beauty and power of birds through theatrical performance.

Two performances appropriate for all ages are scheduled for 6 p.m., Sunday, May 4, and 6 p.m., Sunday, May 11. The National Aviary is offering a special reduced admission of $10 starting at 5 p.m. so visitors can explore the aviary before and after the show. The 120 seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

"This performance is a completely unique experience that integrates trained birds from the National Aviary with stunning video, live music, dance and abstract puppetry," explained Allende and Marder. "The birds become part of the creative process — they will conduct music through their motions, interact with dancers and puppets, and oversee our stage, highlighting the surreal environment, altering our human perspective and setting performers on level footing with their avian counterparts."

"Over the past weeks, our birds have been practicing their behaviors and getting used to the customized set pieces.  During the show, a variety of parrots, a Southern Ground Hornbill and other species will be highlighted in unique ways, and will help to tell the story," said Jenny Walsh, assistant manager of Behavioral Management & Education at the National Aviary.

"For the Birds" features an original score by Pittsburgh musician Anthony Stultz, melodic percussion / marimba by CMU Masters of Music student Colin Pinto Martin, production design by CMU Masters of Drama in Sound Design student Almeda Beynon, local choreographer Adil Mansoor and Pittsburgh-based dancers and puppeteers.

The National Aviary team members are Walsh; Cathy Schlott, curator, Behavioral Management and Education; and education trainers Ashley Connelly, Christa Gaus, Taylor Guastella, Kelly Pollard, Mike Faix and David Kaser.

"For the Birds" is a large-scale collaboration that has been made possible with the support of the National Aviary, the Sprout Fund, and Carnegie Mellon's School of Art, College of Fine Arts Dean's Office and Office of the Vice Provost for Education.