Composers Network

The Landscape Music Composers Network is a group of composers and musicians from across the United States whose music engages with landscape, nature, and place. Including artists both established and emerging, writing in diverse styles, this network is a platform for collaborative projects aiming to increase appreciation and awareness of the natural world through music.

Members of the network are composers and musicians who have created substantial bodies of work connected to landscape, nature, and place, and for whom inspirations from the natural work is an ongoing focus. While our music could broadly be described as “contemporary concert music,” “contemporary classical,” and/or “New Music,” our works encompass wide-ranging influences from classical, popular, and traditional genres, creating work that may be notated, improvised, acoustic, and/or electronic.

We are adding new members on an ongoing basis. The 15 current members of the Composers Network are: Jenni Brandon (Long Beach, CA); Oliver Caplan (Medford, MA); Linda Chase (Boston, MA); Nell Shaw Cohen (Founder & Director; Brooklyn, NY); Ben Cosgrove (Northern New England); Michael Futreal (Shreveport, LA); Brent Lawrence (Eugene, OR); Stephen Lias (Nacogdoches, TX); Libby Meyer (Houghton, MI); Rachel Panitch (Boston, MA); Justin Ralls (Portland, OR); Christina Rusnak (Portland, OR); Alex Shapiro (San Juan Island, WA); Ryan Suleiman (Sacramento, CA); and Stephen Wood (Atlanta, GA).

Current Projects

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. Learn more.

View Past Projects


Jenni BrandonJenni Brandon
Long Beach, CA

“Nature has a profound effect on the music I write. I find that even in urban settings we can be reminded of its impact on us as it calls us back to this stillness at the center of our hearts. A quote from Wendell Berry’s poem ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ reminds me to seek this stillness and beauty all around us:

‘…I come into the peace of wild things
Who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
Waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.'”

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Oliver CaplanOliver Caplan
Medford, MA

“In my music, the geographies of people, places and ideas intertwine to become tales of transformation. From nature to world affairs, recent compositions have included works inspired by Jane Goodall, Frederick Law Olmsted, and the landscapes of New England. My goal as a composer is to create an emotional journey for audience members and connect them to music’s incredible ability to touch something deeply human inside of us, a place that words do not always reach.”

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Linda ChaseLinda Chase
Boston, MA

“After being in Japan during the tsunami/earthquake/nuclear disaster, composer Toru Takemitsu’s words became central to my vision: ‘A lifestyle out of balance with nature is frightening. As long as we live, we aspire to harmonize with nature. It is this harmony in which the arts originate and to which they will eventually return.'”

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Nell Shaw Cohen
Founder & Director
Brooklyn, NY

My passion for nature, landscape, and place has infused my work, from tone poems for symphony orchestra to multimedia pieces for chamber ensemble with video. My Landscape Music encompasses reflections upon my personal experiences and memories of places, as well as reinterpretations of landscapes depicted by visual artists and writers.

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Ben CosgroveBen Cosgrove
Northern New England

“I don’t necessarily think of my pieces as rendering places in music, but more just as a way for me to respond to places musically. Writing music just turns out to be a great way for me to process the world.”

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Michael FutrealMichael Futreal
Shreveport, LA

“Musical interpretations of landscape can articulate impressions of places as powerful catalysts to imagination and memory. For me, to be in a landscape is to feel immersed in the deep time of life and Earth as it relates to the brief candle of individual perspective; landscape music can give voice to this relationship, and, at its best, help kindle it.”

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Brent Lawrence
Eugene, OR

“Every landscape contains an infinite number of stories. My goal, when creating nature-inspired music, is to draw out those narratives and ponder the stories that could be told, if only the land could speak.”

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Stephen Lias

Stephen Lias
Nacogdoches, TX

“We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.”
—Arthur O’Shaughnessy

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Libby MeyerLibby Meyer
Houghton, MI

“Art is less a creation and more an allowing. My process is to be in tune with the landscape and allow the sounds, sights and impressions to shape my compositions. My music is inspired especially by the beauty of the Keweenaw Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior where I live and work. The sounds and images that surround me, like the rhythm of the waves, the song of the white-throated sparrow or the stillness of winter, all offer inspiration. By giving a voice to the landscape and its inhabitants, my hope is to express this fragile relationship that we all share and need to sustain.”

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Rachel PanitchRachel Panitch
Boston, MA

“Most of the music I perform is ‘place music’—it’s passed down by ear by people who live in a particular place. Then I go and perform or teach it somewhere where it’s ‘out-of-place.’ When I compose and improvise, I enjoy pulling from the particular place I’m in, seeing how the unique environment will impact the sounds I choose to put together.”

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Justin Ralls

Justin Ralls
Portland, OR

“Imagine the cultural transformation that could unfold if all composers made a conscious effort to listen deeply to nature and formulate their own creative response.”

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Christina Rusnak

Christina Rusnak
Portland, OR

“I strive to compose music that reflects my human experience. As an avid hiker, passionate about landscape, I’m voraciously curious about the world around me—how the earth formed, how people lived and how they expressed themselves and their world through music and art. My premise is that landscape shapes who we are.”

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Alex ShapiroAlex Shapiro
San Juan Island, WA

“Most of the homes in which I’ve lived have been on the water’s edge, or, in the case of my sailboat, on the water itself. The constant, irregular rhythm and movement of bays, rivers, seas and ocean profoundly affect the way I hear. Through phrases that defy gravity and expectation, I attempt to communicate that which is elusive, haunting, and beautiful. Humans are torn by the self-made dichotomy of architecture and its nemesis, war. Nature’s geometrically perfect snowflakes suffer the cruel, messy fate of the sun. Like petulant children, we, and the Universe, seek and create order, only to then destroy it and begin again.”

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Ryan SuleimanRyan Suleiman
Sacramento, CA

“My music often draws upon natural phenomena and the sublime wonder of the natural world for ideas and inspiration. The richness of the earth dwarfs anything humans have or could ever achieve (which I find comforting). Amidst the crisis of climate change, I hope that my music will help inspire people to both appreciate the world around them and respect it – this respect has never been more urgently needed.”

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Stephen WoodStephen Wood
Atlanta, GA

“A holistic view of Earth’s ecosystem is expressed through a musical relationship with environment.”

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Past Projects

Sunday, December 10, 2017 at 3:00pm
Michigan Technology University in Houghton, MI
Music of the Landscape:
Compositions Inspired by our National Parks and other Special Places

Coordinated by Libby Meyer
Featuring works by Landscape Music composers Nell Shaw Cohen, Stephen Lias, Libby Meyer, Christina Rusnak, and Stephen Wood

Related Links:

  • Event Listing, Michigan Technological University
  • Blog post with program notes and photos highlighting Landscape Music works on this program

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Friday, September 9, 2016 at 6:00pm
Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, NY (The Hamptons)
Cadillac Moon Ensemble at the Parrish Art Museum
Featuring World Premieres by Nell Shaw Cohen and Justin Ralls
with works by Stephen Lias, Alex Shapiro, and Stephen Wood
Performed by Cadillac Moon Ensemble

Related Links:

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Friday, April 15, 2016 at 8:00pm
Advent Library Concert Series in Boston, MA
New Music of Our National Parks
Featuring the music of Rachel Panitch, Linda Chase, and Nell Shaw Cohen
Performed by Cardamom Quartet and Thread Ensemble
with Burcu Gulec, voice, Alicia Mielke, flute, and Devin Ulibarri, guitar

Related Links: