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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Retracing the Anza Trail

Mission San Antonio de Padua, Jolon, CA

Mission San Antonio de Padua, Jolon, CA. Photo © 2018 Nell Shaw Cohen. See more photos.

My composition Retrace for flute, violin, and cello commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act of 1968, and was composed in response to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. It will receive four co-World Premiere performances during Fall 2018 in locations around the country—presented by Citywater and the Visions of the Wild Festival (9/23, Vallejo, CA), Michigan Technological University (10/4, Houghton, MI), Cascadia Composers (10/7, Portland, OR), and Juventas New Music Ensemble (11/3, Boston, MA), respectively—as part of Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails, a nationwide initiative I am directing for the Landscape Music Composers Network.

The Anza Trail stretches 1,200 miles, weaving through desert and city from Nogales, Arizona to San Francisco, California. It follows the path of the Anza Expedition of 1775-76, which traveled indigenous routes from modern-day Mexico through Arizona and California to settle the San Francisco Bay Area for Spain. A narrative mapped onto the land rather than a “trail” in the usual sense, the Anza Trail is an ongoing project of cultural and historical preservation through outreach, education, and recreation. 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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