Portland’s SoundsTruck NW Has Been Nominated for a SXSW Innovation Award

The solar-powered outdoor stage, a project by classical musicians Jonathan and Yoko Greeney, will compete in the urban design category.

Stop us if you’re heard this one before: A Portland classical-music power couple unleashes an outdoor, solar-powered stage, then finds themselves competing for an award at South by Southwest.

Today, that’s exactly what happened to timpanist Jonathan Greeney and pianist Yoko Greeney, who will compete in the urban design category for SXSW’s Innovation Award.

“One of the judges told me that he got goose bumps when he reviewed many of the entries for this year’s Innovation Awards. I agree with this sentiment,” said Hugh Forrest, SXSW co-president and chief programming officer, in a statement. “There is so much here that makes me so excited about the future.”

The Greeneys are nominated for SoundsTruck NW, a Portland organization that brings live music to outdoor locations using a unique, rectangular stage that has popped up at parks, shelters, schools and other places. They have partnered with Portland Parks & Recreation, Randall Children’s Hospital, and the Portland Japanese Garden.

The SoundsTruck stage was adapted from an 8-by-24-foot modular tiny house on wheels. It features dual integrated speakers and LED screens, all powered by rechargeable solar energy (and, yes, the Greeneys are trying to patent the stage).

Yoko Greeney has a private studio and teaches at Lewis & Clark College, while Jonathan is best known as the Oregon Symphony’s principal timpanist (he is also a member of the 45th Parallel Universe Helios Camerata and The Gemini Project percussion group, in addition to teaching percussion studies at Portland State University).

In the urban design category, SoundsTruck NW will be up against a field of competitors that includes a driverless “robotaxi.” The winner will be announced at the Innovation Awards Finalist Showcase on March 9 in Austin, Texas, at which SoundsTruck NW has the advantage of being the most musical and least terrifying innovation nominated in the category.

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