Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails Concert Video on YouTube

New Year, new YouTube channel! We are pleased to announce a new online home for videos of our concerts, interviews, and all things LandscapeMusic.org and Landscape Music Composers Network.

We’re kicking things off with a full-length concert video featuring Citywater, Sacramento’s premier chamber ensemble for new music, as part of Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails: our Fall 2018 concert series, which featured five different chamber ensembles around the country in programs of World Premieres that celebrated the 50th anniversaries of the U.S. Wild & Scenic Rivers and the National Trails System.

Citywater’s Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails program was presented by Visions of the Wild, an environmental arts festival, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Vallejo Community Arts Foundation, with support from the National Park Service. The concert was given at the Empress Theatre in Vallejo, CA on September 23, 2018.

Watch the full concert below, or visit our playlist to see individual videos of World Premiere pieces by Landscape Music composers Nell Shaw Cohen, Linda Chase, Ryan Suleiman, Ben Cosgrove, Christina Rusnak, Rachel Panitch, and Libby Meyer.

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Composing the Oregon National Historic Trail

Oregon Trail map

Editor’s Note: Composer Christina Rusnak writes her fourth essay for LandscapeMusic.org.

Last October, Nell Shaw Cohen, Stephen Wood and I met to discuss the feasibility of a developing a concert series to celebrate the 50th Anniversaries of the Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Trails System. Eleven months later, concerts are premiering in Vallejo, CA (9/23); Atlanta, GA (9/29); Houghton, MI (10/4); Portland, OR (10/7); and Boston, MA (11/3), as part of Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails concert series. My music is being performed in all locations except Boston. Determining what river or trail I would write about was easy—2018 also marks the 175th anniversary of the Oregon National Historic Trail, and I live just 12 miles from the trail’s end.

The Oregon Trail, and our near-mythological familiarity of it, is fraught with controversy. Claimed by both the British and Americans, the land was actually controlled by the indigenous inhabitants who had no idea what was coming. The emigrants who traveled the 2,170 mile Oregon Trail began their journey in Independence, Missouri—skirting the northeastern edge of what is now Kansas and traveling through Nebraska, Wyoming, and Idaho into Oregon, although none of these states actually existed until decades later. The hopeful settlers traveled through “Unorganized Territory” into Oregon Territory. While most people dispersed along the way to settle within east or south of Oregon Territory, the route officially ended at Willamette Falls—the second largest waterfall (in the U.S) after Niagara. About 20% of emigrants, over 80,000, followed the trail to the end. Continue reading

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Announcing Fall 2018 Concert Series

Landscape Music Composers Network logoWild and Scenic Rivers 50th Anniversary LogoNational Trails 50th Anniversary Logo

Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails is 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.

Coordinated by the Landscape Music Composers Network, and presented in collaboration with organizations, venues, and performers across the country, this initiative highlights and celebrates the significance of our national trails and rivers through the creation and presentation of new music. Landscape Music: Rivers & Trail concerts will feature World Premieres of works for small chamber ensembles, created in direct response to the remarkable places protected under these two landmark acts.

Concerts will be presented in Vallejo, CA (9/23); Atlanta, GA (9/29); Houghton, MI (10/4); Portland, OR (10/7); and Boston, MA (11/3). These events are being coordinated by members of the Landscape Music Composers Network, and presented, performed, and promoted in partnership with: U.S. Forest ServiceVisions of the WildNational Park ServiceSierra ClubJuventas New Music Ensemble, Michigan Technological University, Cascadia Composers (NACUSA), Atlanta Contemporary EnsembleCitywater, and Sustain Music and Nature.

The Landscape Music Composers Network is a group 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.

The Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails initiative has mobilized the network’s composers to compose eleven new works in response to our Wild and Scenic Rivers and National Scenic, Historic, and Recreation Trails for World Premiere on this concert series. Five rivers (Sudbury River, Klamath River, Owyhee River, American River, and Chattooga River) and six trails (Juan Bautista de Anza Trail, New England Trail, North Country Trail, Carson Trail, Oregon Trail, and Florida Trail) will be highlighted. Two of the concerts will also feature pieces by guest composers, chosen by Juventas New Music Ensemble and Cascadia Composers through competitive Calls for Scores. Highlighting a diversity of compositional voices and inspirations from nature, each event offers a different selection of works.

To learn more about the concerts, composers, and works being featured, visit the Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails page.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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