Based in 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.”
Libby Meyer (b. 1967) is a composer and Irish fiddler. Her interest in natural soundscapes, conservation of special places and curiosity about the relationship between the arts and the natural world fuel her work. She is a co-founder of the Keweenaw Soundscape Project established to aurally document the Keweenaw region and surrounding lands for ecological, social and artistic value. She has served as an Artist in Residence at Isle Royale National Park and has written a number of compositions inspired by the landscape. In 2012 Sea Caves, Hear Caves for orchestra and recorded sounds of the sea caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore was premiered by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra. Her piece To What Listens for chamber choir, trombone, piano and percussion based on the poetry of Wendell Berry was premiered by Conscience Chamber Choir in April of 2016.
In 2016, Libby and colleagues from Michigan Technological University were awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks program. The project team is recording soundscapes in the five National Parks on Lake Superior and she will create a new composition as part of a touring sound installation to be premiered in December of 2017. Upcoming performances include Shades of Blue Green for video, two amplified violins, tap dancer and wind symphony inspired by the wave motion of Lake Superior to be premiered by Superior Winds and incidental music for the play Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson presented by the Tech Theater Company.
Libby and her husband live on a small farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula surrounded by the choruses of sandhill cranes, woodcocks and spring peepers depending upon the season. Despite winters that regularly deliver over 300” of snow, they plant a large garden, raise honeybees and maintain a small apple and cherry orchard.
Libby holds a DMA in music composition from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and is currently the director of the music composition program at Michigan Technological University.
Excerpt from Melusina Calls to the Loon (2002) for violin and chamber orchestra. Recorded live by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, Cori Somers, violin, 2002.
“Isle Royale National Park is a magical place. The loon calls are an ever-present fixture on the island. Melusina Calls to the Loon was written as part of my 1999 Artist in Residency at Isle Royale National Park and is my impression of the soundscapes of the park.”
Excerpt from Sea Caves, Hear Caves (2012) for orchestra and recorded sounds of the Sea Caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Recorded live and commissioned by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra, 2012.
“I have been paddling in the Apostles Islands for many years and have always been fascinated by the sounds of the sea caves. Each cave has its own unique set of timbres and resonances. In 2011 armed with a small digital recorder, I spent several days paddling and recording the sounds of the sea caves of Meyers Beach, Sand Island and Devils Island. Sea Caves, Hear Caves is the result of that adventure.”
Excerpt from Ours is the Sky (2014) for chamber choir and tuned glasses. Recorded live and commissioned by ConScience Chamber Choir, 2014. Poetry by M. Bartley Seigel.
“Our is the sky inside the orb of Heaven, no other. Cupped within our palms our fallow fields sleep-swaddled in blankets of snow and ice while under the earth sleep our dead. Life knows us and hovers above our knees. Trapped in a fear relentless as wild dogs, we can still attempt a crossing. We may sense our own end, but we can still move through these wooded hills, our minds attentive to the contours of the land.”
“In composing this piece, I used two different but related pitch collections that can be heard in the shimmering chords in the glasses over which the voices are layered. The first collection, heard at the beginning and end of the composition is representative of ‘heaven’ and sky, while the second collection that gradually enters midway through signifies ‘land’, ‘earth’ and sometimes ‘death’. At times these collections are heard separately and at times as a complete set of eight pitches. My intent was to make this suggestive of the complicated yet beautiful relationship between heaven and earth, life and death. Relationships that sometimes move us to speech made of nothing more than a whisper.”