Call for Scores: Juventas New Music Ensemble Presents Landscape Music

Juventas New Music Ensemble logo
Juventas New Music Ensemble seeks chamber music and art songs inspired by American Landscapes.

DEADLINE: APRIL 3, 2018
Application Fee: $10
Learn More & Apply!

The selected works will be performed by Juventas New Music Ensemble at their Fall 2018 concert, Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails, a partnership with the Landscape Music Composers Network. The program will commemorate the 50th​ Anniversaries of the National Trails System and the Wild and Scenic Rivers acts.

One or more composers may also be invited to join the Landscape Music Composers Network: a group of composers and musicians from across the United States whose music engages with landscape, nature, and place. Membership includes a featured profile at http://landscapemusic.org/composers-network, opportunities to participate in the group’s collaborative projects, and consideration for programming on future concerts. Continue reading

Fall 2018 Concert Series – Call for Partners

Landscape Music Composers Network is excited to announce that we’re seeking partners for Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails, a nationwide series of concerts in Fall 2018 commemorating the 50th​ Anniversaries of the National Trails System Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Organized by the Landscape Music Composers Network, and presented in collaboration with venues and performers across the country, these concerts will highlight and celebrate the significance of our national trails and rivers through musical expression. Continue reading

Landscape Music Concert at Michigan Tech on December 10, 2017

This Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 3:00pm, Michigan Technology University in Houghton, MI, in affiliation with the Landscape Music Composers Network, presents a concert of new music inspired by national parks and other remarkable landscapes.

This concert, curated by Libby Meyer, features music composed by Libby and several other members of the Landscape Music Composers Network: Nell Shaw Cohen (World Premiere), Stephen Lias, Christina Rusnak, and Stephen Wood, alongside works by Jesse Budel and Corinna Hogan.

Continue reading to explore each of the featured works by Landscape Music composers, then check out MTU’s event listing for venue details or tune into the livestream to listen online! (The livestream is available Sunday, December 10 at 2:30pm EST; concert starts at 3:00pm.) Continue reading

Evoking Aldo Leopold’s Wildlife Ecology through Music and Poetry

Mi Casita with boulders

“Mi Casita,” Aldo and Estella Leopold’s home in Tres Piedras, NM, now the site of the Leopold Residency Program. Photo courtesy of Andrea Clearfield.

Conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) is considered the father of wildlife ecology. Leopold underwent a transformation in his perspective on wildlife through a life spent in engagement with the natural world. Leopold writes of one such pivotal moment in essay “Thinking Like a Mountain,” in which he and his friends shot at a mother wolf and her pups:

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.”

Leopold would come to understand wolves’ crucial role in the health of ecosystems, which was proven by the successful reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park decades after Leopold’s time. (Justin Ralls explored this topic in an essay and composition for Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Of Wolves and Rivers, for Landscape Music’s National Parks centennial concert last year.)

Andrea Clearfield, left, and Ariana Kramer, right. Photo courtesy of Andrea Clearfield.

Leopold’s legacy lives on through the Aldo and Estella Leopold Residency Program: a monthlong retreat at the Leopolds’ first home in northern New Mexico, owned by Carson National Forest and hosted by the Leopold Writing Program. This past August, the residency program—usually reserved for environmental writers—hosted an unusual project: Transformed by Fire, a collaboration between renowned Philadelphia-based composer Andrea Clearfield and poet and freelance writer Ariana Kramer from Taos, NM. Their song cycle for baritone and chorus takes Leopold’s writings as a jumping-off point for a musical and poetic exploration of wolves and their role in our ecosystems.

Last June, prior to their residency and the subsequent concert performance of their work-in-progress, I sat down with Andrea and Ariana in Taos to discuss the origins and goals of Transformed by Fire. The following excerpts from this interview offer a snapshot of the formative, early stages of their collaboration—a glimpse into their creative process. Continue reading

Commissioning Landscape Music

Cellist Marilyn DeOliveira performs Christina Rusnak’s Glacier Blue. Photo courtesy Jacob Wade and Third Angle New Music.

Editor’s Note: Composer Christina Rusnak, a member of the Landscape Music Composers Network, writes her third illuminating essay for Landscape Music.

Christina Rusnak

Christina Rusnak

While composing a recent commission for the new music ensemble Third Angle, I began to consider how the requirements and aesthetics of the commissioning organization impact the creation of landscape music. In a pre-concert talk I attended a few years ago, Steven Stucky pointed out that frames are a good thing; otherwise, our choices would be limitless. For most of my years as an emerging composer, however, I worked without frames—except for the contexts of landscapes themselves. As I hiked, researched, and experienced the various facets of a particular place, the scaffolding of a piece would emerge. Continue reading

Listening to Tell the Tale (With Wilderness Comes Wonder)

Shipwreck at Pictured Rocks

Shipwreck at Pictured Rocks. Photo: Steve Brimm Photography.

Editor’s Note: Composer Libby Meyer, a member of the Landscape Music Composers Network, writes her first essay for Landscape Music about her NEA-funded project “Listening to Parks.”

Apostle Islands Rain in a Pressure Cooker. Recording by Libby Meyer.

I found myself in a tent during a thunderstorm on Ironwood Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on a Thursday evening in August eating rice and beans with my husband and recording the sound of rain falling into my pressure cooker with a hydrophone. That evening, we would later find out, a young man had drowned in 8-foot waves off of Stockton Island about ten miles east of our campsite. We had listened to the rescue attempt on our marine radio: helicopters in the background and reports of sightings. We learned from a ranger, who had come to clean the outhouse on Otter Island where we camped the next day, that his body had been found. While we were listening to rain and enjoying our dinner, safe and warm in our tent, someone was losing his life. Vulnerability is relative.

* * *

“We have work to do.”

Four months earlier, a late night text from my colleague and sound designer, Chris Plummer, announced that we—along with designer Kent Cyr—were awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the National Park Service Program Imagine Your Parks. My initial reaction was one of elation. This was quickly followed by something closer to panic: “Now we really have to do this.”

For our project, entitled “Listening to Parks,” we are recording soundscapes at Isle Royale National Park, The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP). I will be composing a piece based on these recordings and my impressions of the Parks to be premiered by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra in December 2017. Our team will design a multi-media sound installation utilizing collected images, music, video, and audio recordings, which will tour to locations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. We will work with with K-12 students and teachers in our region, utilizing our project to promote enjoyment, stewardship, and lifelong learning through the National Parks. In addition to our funding from the NEA, we were subsequently awarded funding from the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation to include another two national parks on Lake Superior: Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore and Grand Portage National Monument. Continue reading

A Conversation with Landscape Music Composers

Nell Shaw Cohen, composer and Director of the Landscape Music Composers Network, was joined earlier this month by fellow Landscape Music composers Justin Ralls, Stephen Wood, and Stephen Lias for a fascinating, wide-ranging conversation about bringing inspirations from nature into music. It was filmed on the occasion of Landscape Music’s National Park Service centennial concert with Cadillac Moon Ensemble at the Parrish Art Museum, and includes a discussion of the works on that program with clips from the performance.

What’s New? Summer 2016

Cadillac Moon Ensemble performs the World Premiere of "Refuge" by Nell Shaw Cohen, with video projection of the Kemp's ridley sea turtle.

Cadillac Moon Ensemble performs Refuge by Nell Shaw Cohen, with video projection of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, at the Parrish Art Museum.

With the Fall Equinox fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to get caught up on everything that’s been happening here at Landscape Music over the summer: a collaborative concert production, new Composers Network members, and new articles!


Cadillac Moon Ensemble at the Parrish Art Museum

Last Friday, September 9, our concert with Cadillac Moon Ensemble at the Parrish Art Museum on the East End of Long Island received a great audience turnout and response. The program, which celebrated the 2016 National Park Service centennial, featured two World Premieres of works written for Cadillac Moon Ensemble and four works for solo instruments. All of the music was composed by members of Landscape Music Composers Network—Nell Shaw Cohen, Stephen Lias, Justin Ralls, Alex Shapiro, and Stephen Wood—four of whom were in attendance.

Stay tuned for videos from this special event, including a conversation with the composers and clips from the concert itself.

A group discussion with the composers at the Parrish Art Museum. Left to right: Stephen Lias, Stephen Wood, Justin Ralls, and Nell Shaw Cohen.

A conversation with the composers at the Parrish Art Museum. Left to right: Stephen Lias, Stephen Wood, Justin Ralls, and Nell Shaw Cohen.


Libby Meyer and Oliver Caplan Join Composers Network

Two exciting composers have joined the Landscape Music Composers Network!

Libby MeyerLibby Meyer‘s music is fueled by her interest in natural soundscapes, conservation of special places, and curiosity about the relationship between the arts and the natural world. A composer, fiddler, co-founder of the Keweenaw Soundscape Project, and former Artist in Residence at Isle Royale National Park, Libby hails from Houghton, MI.

Oliver Caplan
Boston-area composer Oliver Caplan creates music in which the geographies of people, places and ideas intertwine to become tales of transformation. Oliver’s inspirations have included Jane Goodall, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the landscapes of New England.


Recent Articles on Landscape Music

Stories of Wildlife Conservation in “Refuge” by Nell Shaw Cohen — What do the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, Mission blue butterfly, and American bison have in common? The National Park Service! Nell explores how each of these species’ conservation stories connect to the NPS in Refuge, her piece for Cadillac Moon Ensemble.

Exploring “Of Wolves and Rivers” by Justin Ralls – The wolves of Yellowstone National Park are a powerful symbol of wilderness and demonstrate how one species can alter an entire ecosystem. Through his piece for Cadillac Moon Ensemble, Of Wolves and Rivers, Justin references and sanctifies the relationships between wolves and rivers and between humans and their environment.

Exploring “Of Wolves and Rivers” by Justin Ralls

Yellowstone River, Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone River, Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Editor’s Note: “Of Wolves and Rivers” by Justin Ralls receives its World Premiere on our upcoming Landscape Music Composers Network concert. In this essay, Justin explores the inspiration behind his piece.

I am honored to be a part of Landscape Music’s upcoming concert with Cadillac Moon Ensemble at the Parrish Art Museum in The Hamptons, NY on September 9, 2016, celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service and our common natural heritage. In creating a piece for this very special concert, I looked to Yellowstone for inspiration. Not only was Yellowstone the nation’s first national park, dedicated in 1872, but the greater Yellowstone ecosystem is a living portrait of wilderness: filled with free rivers, rugged mountains, thick forests and wildlife. Yellowstone exemplifies what much of North America, both east and west, was once like only generations ago. Nell Shaw Cohen’s Refuge also draws inspiration from Yellowstone, with a movement exploring a musical narrative of the bison’s once and future home in the American landscape and consciousness.

Along with the bison, the wolf has become an emblem of such primal wilderness. Continue reading

Stories of Wildlife Conservation in “Refuge” by Nell Shaw Cohen

Bison Bison

Bison in Yellowstone. Photo © 2010 Douglas Bowen. Made available under CC BY 2.0 license. Source.

Refuge (2016) for flute (piccolo), percussion, violin, and cello is a 16 1/2 minute narrative suite following the conservation stories of three wild animals and their habitats. Each of these species offers a different perspective from which to reflect upon the National Park Service’s role in wildlife conservation and the diversity and fragility of life on Earth.

I composed this piece for an upcoming World Premiere by Cadillac Moon Ensemble at the Parrish Art Museum in The Hamptons, NY on September 9, 2016, presented by the Landscape Music Composers Network, to celebrate the centennial year of the National Park Service. Learn more about this exciting concert, which also features a World Premiere by Justin Ralls and four other works by members of the Landscape Music Composers Network.

In the following essay, I explore each of the three species and national parks that serve as the focus of Refuge and relate how I’ve approached telling their stories through music. Continue reading