I believe deeply in environmental protection. When young I even toyed with the idea of becoming a naturalist. Now, as an artist, I believe that I should use my talents and abilities to participate in our world, politically as well as artistically. I have also been deeply intrigued with the sounds of nature and the idea of composing with the sounds of living creatures of all kinds.
Years back, I began collecting natural sounds and composing with them. My first ventures were pieces such as ‘Naturemusic One and Two’ where I combined ensembles such as string quintet with the sounds made by dolphins, humpbacked whales and sea elephants.
When a work was requested by the music adventurer, composer/saxophonist Demetrius Spaneas for his world-tour, my work MUSIC FROM EARTH was born. In this work, I utilized many natural sounds in combination with orchestral ones, as part of the music concrete tape which accompanies Demetrius’s performance. I also created videos comprised of natural images which are part of the work.
My most ambitious work of the ‘environmental’ variety is titled HUDSON VALLEY MUSIC. It was commissioned by Quintet of the Americas for their 30th Anniversary concert tour. As an alum of Cornell University, I applied and was awarded access to their illustrious Macaulay Library of Ornithology, and therefore hundreds of natural sounds. For HVM, I created extensive ‘sound concrete’ backdrops and a video comprised of both natural imagery and the work of environmental artist Ken Cro-Ken which leads audience members on a journey from the Long Island Sound, up the Hudson River Valley and into mythological space. The live performers are, of course, the main actors in this saga.
After the initial tour with Quintet of the Americas, I discovered that HVM was the kind of piece I could ‘redesign’ for other ensembles, and I did so, enjoying performances with Ensemble Pi, the Society for New Music, the London New Winds Festival, and many others. I created versions for soloists such as flutist Robert Dick and tubist David Unland. I even created a version for orchestra and had a wonderful time riding the controls in performance with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. The most recent was a performance on my CHIRON ARTS FESTIVAL 12/10/17, with the CHIRON Chamber Players and opera star Jennifer Roderer adding the new element of readings as part of the work. Jennifer read with passion the words of John Muir, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Chief Seattle and others.
I even have a version which acts as an ‘environmental workshop’. I often enact this workshop as part of my ‘The Phantastic Theater’ series where I present new music and art to family audiences, or as part of teaching workshops in schools.
BUY THE ALBUM HERE:
OCEAN FOR VIOLIN AND PIANO
This chamber work also has an environmental theme and develops musical material from HVM. Please press the picture below to visit the project page for this exciting and powerful work which is written in response to the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico… from which cause ocean creatures are still dying and the Environment paying a price.
The very first of these type of pieces was my NATUREMUSIC – which you can some of in the Music Player in the Sidebar (or below if you’re on a mobile) – you can hear String Quintet with Elephant Seals, Humpback Whales and Dolphins!