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about

It is an island of many names: Minnahanock ("nice island") to Native Americans, Varckens ("hogs' island") to the Dutch, Manning's Island to the British, and then Blackwell's Island, Welfare Island, and finally Roosevelt Island to Americans. Starting in the early 19th century, it was the site of several large institutions that housed society's public charges: the sick, the indigent, and the criminal. Although the rural setting was claimed to provide an environment conducive to healing and rehabilitation, conditions became increasingly overcrowded and miserable and the line between patient and inmate was sometimes a fine one.

The songs here are stories about some of the people and places connected to the island's past and present. Historical figures, mythical anecdotes, and archival material combine to form a patchwork of history and fantasy. Once described in detective fiction as "bell in mid-channel," current day Roosevelt Island is home to a residential community as well as modern hospitals, and although only a stone's throw away from bustling Manhattan, the island is still a world unto itself.

credits

released January 1, 2004

See individual songs for source and accreditation. Album artwork by Brian Dewan. This project commissioned by Grizedale Arts. Thanks to Fred Jodry and the Brown University Chamber Chorus, Judith Berdy of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, Sarah Glennie and Adam Sutherland.

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about

Nina Katchadourian New York

Visual artist and somewhat more closeted musician.

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