Landscape Music is a network of musical artists and an online publication. Our mission is to deepen public appreciation of the natural world by providing a platform for contemporary composers and performers whose music engages with landscape, nature, and place. Learn more.

Projects

Earth Year 2020
EarthThe composers of Landscape Music commemorate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary with activities taking place during the year 2020 and into 2021. This initiative is a catalyst for new works, performances, music videos, and community events showcasing new music that reflects environmental themes at the forefront of our global consciousness. Learn more.

Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails
National Trails 50th Anniversary LogoA nationwide series of concerts in Fall 2018 that commemorated the 50th​ Anniversaries of the National Trails System and Wild and Scenic Rivers Acts. 12 new works of chamber music were given World Premieres on concerts engaging 35 musicians in five different regions across the U.S. Learn more.

Past Projects

Landscape Music Membership Opens to Performing Artists & Ensembles

Landscape Music began in 2015 as a composers’ collective, highlighting the work of composers and composer-performers based in the United States. Membership grew to include international artists, and now we are inviting performing artists, and performing ensembles, to join the ranks of our featured artists!

Like our composers and composer-performers, all performers and ensembles invited to Landscape Music will have demonstrated a deep, sustained engagement with themes of landscape, nature, and/or place in their bodies of work, across multiple projects. With the addition of performers, Landscape Music promises to become increasingly effective as a platform, a community, and a catalyst for collaborations.

Music in the American Wild album coverOur very first performing ensemble member is the American Wild Ensemble. Comprised of Emlyn Johnson, flute; Ellen Breakfield-Glick, clarinet; Lauren Becker, horn; Hanna Hurwitz, violin; Alexander Peña, viola; Daniel Ketter, cello; and Colleen Bernstein, percussion, this chamber ensemble has done incredible work commissioning and performing music inspired by landscape, nature, and place. It’s an honor to feature them on LandscapeMusic.org. In their words:

“American Wild Ensemble celebrates the people, places, and stories that shape American history and culture through the commission and performance of new music. The American Wild Ensemble specializes in context-driven music that encourages our audiences to explore their environments through a different lens, engage with contemporary music in a new way, and foster the sense of community between performers, listeners, and the spaces that surround them. We design programming that is unique to each of our partnering organizations or locations, offering cohesive, site-inspired performances, workshops, and special events that support and reflect the vision of our collaborators.”

Listen to recordings of their performances and learn more at the ensemble’s member profile.

More performing members will be announced very soon!

To facilitate the growth of Landscape Music, the invitation process has been streamlined with a formal application. Inquiries are welcome from composers, performers, and performing ensembles who are interested in joining the network. Please submit an application using this Google Form.

—Nell Shaw Cohen
Founder & Director, Landscape Music

Visions of the Wild Festival Presents Earth Year with Landscape Music & Citywater, April 21, 2021

U.S. Forest Service & VCAF present Earth Year Visions of the Wild Film and Arts Festival

Composers from Landscape Music, an international composers’ collective, and musicians from Citywater, Sacramento’s premier new music ensemble, present their work in a free online event with the Visions of Film and Arts Wild Festival on Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 5:00pm PDT. Register for this free event at visionsofthewild.org.

São Miguel Island, the Azores.

São Miguel Island, the Azores. Photo by Guillermo Varela. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The audience will hear the World Premiere performances of two brand new works for flute and cello, commissioned by Landscape Music exclusively for Visions of the Wild. Composed by Juhi Bansal and Daniel Morel, these pieces will celebrate diverse locales from the biosphere reserves of the Azores to the apple orchards of Missouri. The premieres will be recorded and presented by Cathie Apple, flute, and Timothy Stanley, cello, of Citywater.

Additionally, composers Nell Shaw Cohen, Derek Keller, and Ryan Suleiman will introduce excerpts from works that take inspiration from places in and around the Bay Area. They’ll discuss their musical responses to Andy Goldsworthy’s land art in the Presidio of San Francisco (Cohen’s Transforming Forest); the beauty, complexity, and fragility of the Sacramento watershed (Keller’s NorCal Water Music); and the devastation of the 2017 Sonoma wildfires (Suleiman’s Burning).

The presentation will conclude with a live audience Q&A. Continue reading

Landscape Music Announces “Earth Year 2020” Initiative

Landscape Music Earth Year 2020 logo
The composers of Landscape Music commemorate Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary with activities taking place during the year 2020 through Earth Day 2021. This initiative is a catalyst for new works, performances, music videos, and community events showcasing new music that reflects environmental themes at the forefront of our global consciousness.

These projects highlight work by members of Landscape Music: a stylistically diverse, international collective of composers and composer-performers whose music engages with landscape, nature, and place. Learn more at LandscapeMusic.org.

Earth Day is commemorated annually on April 22. The first Earth Day in 1970 is credited with launching the modern environmental movement and is now recognized as the planet’s largest civic event. Learn more at Earth Day Network.

Earth Year 2020 builds on Landscape Music’s 2018 collaborative initiative, Landscape Music: Rivers & Trails, which commemorated the 50th​ Anniversaries of the National Trails System and Wild & Scenic Rivers acts. That project catalyzed 12 new works of chamber music and a nationwide series of concerts engaging 35 musicians in five different regions across the U.S.

An overview of Earth Year 2020 projects is provided below. Details and additional projects will be announced throughout the year at LandscapeMusic.org, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages. To be notified of major announcements, including the release of free streaming music and video, please join our mailing list.

Inquiries about Landscape Music and Earth Year 2020 may be directed to Nell Shaw Cohen, Director, nell@landscapemusic.org.


Featured Projects


U.S. Forest Service & VCAF present Earth Year Visions of the Wild Film and Arts Festival

ONLINE EVENT:
Earth Year with Landscape Music & Citywater

Headshot of Nell Shaw Cohen

Project by Nell Shaw Cohen

Composers from Landscape Music and musicians from Citywater, Sacramento’s premier new music ensemble, present their work in a free online event with the Visions of the Wild Film and Arts Festival, a partnership of the U.S. Forest Service and Vallejo Community Arts Alliance. As part of the festival’s 38°N series, this program consists of works with a geographical impetus along the 38th parallel.

The audience will hear the World Premiere performances of two brand new works for flute and cello, commissioned by Landscape Music exclusively for Visions of the Wild. Composed by Juhi Bansal and Daniel Morel, these pieces will celebrate diverse locales from the biosphere reserves of the Azores to the apple orchards of Missouri. Additionally, Nell Shaw Cohen, Derek Keller, and Ryan Suleiman will introduce excerpts from their works that take inspiration from places in and around the Bay Area. Read the event announcement for more information about the program.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 5:00pm PDT. Register for this free event at visionsofthewild.org.

 

Dead tree branch with title "Sentinels"

MUSIC VIDEO:
Sentinels

Michael Futreal

Project by Michael Futreal

A series of short films with animated photography, scored with new music evoking the secret, quiet majesty of the Earth’s “sentinels”: overlooked elements of a landscape that take on an animistic, mythic character. In Michael Futreal’s Sentinels, these watchers watch us—and urge us to consider our obligations to other living beings in this world.

NEW: Watch part one of “Sentinels” now!

 

 

Painting by Sakurako KanemitsuPainting by Sakurako Kanemitsu (detail)

INTERVIEW SERIES:
Reflections on Music and Nature

Ryan Suleiman

Project by Ryan Suleiman

In this online interview series, Ryan Suleiman speaks with composers, performers, and musical curators about the role of the natural world in their work and the role of artists in our troubled times.

Subscribe to Ryan’s YouTube channel for new episodes released weekly on Thursdays. Follow the Facebook page for updates.

 

 

CONSORTIUM:
Blueprints for Hope

A new work for concert band by Katherine Bergman in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, commissioned and premiered by a consortium of seven different ensembles. Activist victories are easily forgotten, but their stories can be looked upon as blueprints for the next wave of change and the next generation of activists.

Perusal score freely available; performance score and parts available for purchase. More information.

 

Windmill

MUSIC VIDEO:
Wind Power

A music video highlighting sustainable energy through the beauty of wind power. New music for harp and soundscapes by Anne Vanschothorst will be paired with poetry by Danielle Danker and footage by Pjotr van Schothorst of wind turbines in Zeeland, Netherlands.

Coming soon.

 

 

Gotland, Sweden

COMPOSER RESIDENCY:
Visby, Sweden, and the California Desert

Christina Rusnak

Project by Christina Rusnak

Two new works for chamber ensembles by Christina Rusnak, reflecting environmental values in dynamic, contrasting landscapes.

Christina’s self-directed residency in March 2020 at Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley National Park will inform a new work drawing attention to the critical need to protect desert landscapes as the planet warms. Her forthcoming residency at the Visby International Centre for Composers (Visby, Sweden) will give rise to a work exploring connections in environmental values between Scandinavia and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

 

Spy Pond
CONCERT:
Site-Specific Performance at Spy Pond

Linda Chase

Project by Linda Chase

A site-specific, concert-length piece by Linda Chase at Spy Pond in Massachusetts. In a call to climate action, instrumentalists and vocalists at the pond’s shore, and in four canoes floating across the water, will create an immersive musical experience. Protestors carrying signs will be integrated into the performance, while the community will be invited to participate by creating poetry and soundmaps in response.

Postponed due to COVID-19.

 


Details and additional projects will be announced on an ongoing basis at LandscapeMusic.org, and on our Facebook and Twitter. To be notified of major announcements, including the release of free streaming music and video, please join our mailing list. Inquiries about Landscape Music and Earth Year 2020 may be directed to Nell Shaw Cohen, Director, nell@landscapemusic.org.

Drawing Inspiration from Nature in a Time of Ecological Collapse

Image: “Wildfire” by Annie Bissett. Courtesy of the artist. More information.

Editor’s Note: Landscape Music composer Ryan Suleiman contributes his first essay to LandscapeMusic.org.

This Saturday I’m looking forward to hearing the premiere of my new orchestra piece, Burning, commissioned by Pete Nowlen and the Symphony d’Oro in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento). The collaboration has been such a joy for me. The concert is billed as a celebration of the Earth, programmed alongside Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6 (one of my favorites) and James DeMars’ Lake That Speaks, two other works that engage with nature. The concert is also fundraising event for Whisker Warriors, a nonprofit that helps animals displaced by fires.

What does it mean for our art when the natural balance of the environment is in a state of crisis?

Beethoven, like many creative people, was deeply inspired by the natural world, talking walks through nature and retreating to the countryside to escape city life, recharge himself, get ideas. Scientific research has shown, as most artists have long known intuitively, that doing this is essential for one’s health and creativity. To state the obvious, there is so much fantastic music and art that is inspired by the wonder and beauty of nature. The clearest aspect of the beauty one finds in nature could be said to be the surface level. During a sunset, the sky is filled with vibrant colors. Mountains and trees in a forest create a striking form.

But of course, it is not just color and form that inspires us. It is the awe one feels looking at something so momentous as a mountain or an ocean and knowing that it has been here for millions and millions of years. It is knowing that it is part of a delicate balance and complex and dynamic web of life and death. Something bigger than oneself. It is also knowing that, as old as the mountains and the valleys are, they were literally completely different at one time, since they’re always changing. Or knowing that as seemingly timeless as the formations of California’s Central Valley are, they used to be an inland sea. It is the fact that nature provides nourishment and healing for us, but also can destroy us – it doesn’t care about us. It is the sublime. The reason we find inspiration in nature is because it contains both surface level beauty and these much deeper meanings because of our physical and spiritual connection with it. Continue reading