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.)

Brush Creek Ranch

Nell Shaw Cohen
at Brush Creek

Performed by Jon Ensminger, Piano

“These mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.” –John Muir

Nell Shaw Cohen

Nell Shaw Cohen

“After over a decade of writing chamber music, I finally started and finished my first composition for solo piano during a memorable two weeks in September 2017. Walks at Brush Creek was inspired by my daily walks through rural Western scenery as an Artist-in-Residence at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, located on a ranch in southeastern Wyoming abutting Medicine Bow National Forest. In the spirit of John Muir, I slowly “sauntered” for many miles on foot trails and dirt roads snaking through forests, valleys, and hills, and tried various approaches to combining this active mindfulness—a walking meditation, of sorts—with my creative process. The best days were when I generated melodies and motives on-the-move in the morning and fleshed them out at the piano in the afternoon. Walks at Brush Creek is the fruit of these experiments. With this score, I offer a musical illustration of my emotional responses to the landscape of Brush Creek Ranch—from the ever-shifting cloud shadows playing over the grasses and sagebrush to the sweeping lines of wooden fences that frame them.”

Visit Nell’s Landscape Music Composers Network profile.

Learn more about Walks at Brush Creek at Nell’s website.

Composing in Denali

Photo courtesy of Stephen Lias, 2012

Stephen Wood
Elegy for the Earth (2012)

Performed by Ricky Vermeulen, viola

Stephen Wood

Stephen Wood

Elegy for the Earth arose from an empathetic appreciation towards Earth as a living being whose greatest offering is the fertile soil where the nutrients of life are sewn. Dirt is the essence of the great cycle of life. All beings and elements eventually become, have been, or coexist with soil. Viewed as an inanimate object Earth is undergoing a time of great suffering from the massive amount of destruction, extraction, and pollution by human society. I wish we were kinder to our home and lived in way that expressed appreciation towards the elements of Life provided by our Mother Earth. Elegy for the Earth began during a time when I was feeling a great need to reconnect with the wilderness from a compassionate open way. Originally written for the violin, the music began during a weeklong composing and meditation retreat in North Georgia’s Cohutta Wilderness Area.”

—Stephen Wood

Visit Stephen’s Landscape Music Composers Network profile.

Learn more about Elegy for the Earth at Stephen’s website.

Photo © John Ashley.

Christina Rusnak
Mountain from Glacier Blue (2017)

Performed by Andrew Shaud, cello

Christina Rusnak

Christina Rusnak

“Discovering a place as vast and richly diverse as Glacier National Park can be a lifelong endeavor.

Each visit brings new vistas, or a variation on previous experiences; layers become evident by the time of day, the change of the seasons – the light, the sounds, the colors – wet or dry. So in preparation of this piece, I deliberately chose my solo hikes both in spring and in fall, to broaden my experiences. Broken into three movements, the piece concentrates on the physical elements that tie it together – the mountains, sky and water and the color blue.

I. Mountain
II. Sky
III. Water

The mountains appear blue on the horizon; the blue sky morphs during the day and night; glacial ice appears blue because the dense compacted ice of the glacier absorbs all colors except blue. Its disparate elements are unified in an amazing landscape.”

—Christina Rusnak

Visit Christina’s Landscape Music Composers Network profile.

Learn more about Glacier Blue at Christina’s website.

Isle Royale

Isle Royale. Photo: Chris Plummer.

Libby Meyer
Melusina Calls to the Loon (1999)

Performed by Barbara Rhyneer, violin

Libby Meyer

Libby Meyer

Melusina Calls to the Loon was composed as part of an artist residency at Isle Royale National Park in 1999. I was living in Chicago at the time and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the sights and sounds all around me. My intention was to translate through music my experience at the Park. Each night walking from my cabin I would hear the calls of the loons, the chattering of squirrels and bird songs and the motion of Lake Superior. I imagined a conversation between a mermaid and a loon calling back and forth in the dark. From this conversation Melusina Calls to the Loon was created.”

—Libby Meyer

Visit Libby’s Landscape Music Composers Network profile

Learn more about Melusina Calls to the Loon at Libby’s website.

Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, 1937 (print 1976)

Ansel Adams, Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, 1937 (print 1976)

Stephen Lias
Winter Sunrise from Range of Light (2014)

Stephen Lias

“Written in 2014 for saxophonist Nathan Nabb, this sonata is a tour-de-force for the advanced saxophonist. Each of the four movements is based on selected photographs of Yosemite National Park by Ansel Adams. Premiered in April, 2014.”

—Stephen Lias

Visit Stephen’s Landscape Music Composers Network profile

Learn more about Range of Light at Stephen’s website.

This program also features Long Island by Jesse Budel for recorded sounds and electronics, and Look Up by Corinna Hogan.

Check out MTU’s event listing for ticketing and venue details, and tune into the livestream to listen online! (The livestream is available Sunday, December 10 at 2:30pm EST; concert starts at 3:00pm).

This concert is affiliated with the Landscape Music Composers Network, a group of composers from across the United States whose music engages with landscape, nature, and place.

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