Music in the American Wild began with a walk in the woods. This one small act inspired a grand adventure that eventually brought new music to seven American national parks in the summer of 2016. This initiative, sponsored in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, resulted in collaborations between composers, instrumentalists, and park rangers to commission, premiere, and archive a whole new opus of inherently American works written for the national parks.
The American Wild Ensemble, a septet of winds, strings, and percussion, commissioned eleven established and emerging composers to create new works inspired by the beauty, history, and diversity of our parks. We premiered these works for thousands of national park visitors in celebration of the 2016 National Park Service centennial.
On this journey we captured beautiful video footage and field recordings on location at in-park performances in some of our country’s most stunning natural theaters. We played 30 stories underground in Mammoth Cave, high up in the alpine forests of Mount Rainier, and many dramatic natural venues in between. The music we brought to these spaces provided an enhanced sensory experience to our listeners and encouraged audiences to engage with their parks in a deeply creative and wonderfully unexpected way.
Now we want to share the Music in the American Wild experience with a broader community by creating a video album in collaboration with ArtistShare. This album will combine our eleven national park-inspired works with striking visuals from each of our partner parks. By providing this visual context we invite you to experience our music in the amazing places for which it was written. You will be immersed in the landscapes of Great Smoky Mountains, Mammoth Cave, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Olympic, San Juan Island, and Shenandoah National Parks in short films paired with music by composers Chris Chandler, Kevin Ernste, Ted Goldman, Tonia Ko, Aristea Mellos, David Clay Mettens, Robert Morris, Jeff Myers, Daniel Pesca, Adam Roberts, and Aaron Travers. By highlighting these places with music written expressly for them, we hope to inspire a new generation of artists, environmentalists, and audiences to champion our American public lands.
The American Wild Ensemble is comprised of stellar young artists who met playing music together at Eastman School of Music. Flutist Emlyn Johnson, clarinetist Ellen Breakfield-Glick, hornist Lauren Becker, violinist Jeremy Potts, violist Emily Sheil, cellist Daniel Ketter, percussionist Colleen Bernstein, and conductor Kevin Holzman will be featured in this brand new studio recording of eleven colorful and distinctive works, all inspired by the variety of the geography, history, and meaning of our national parks. Our production team, Paul Coleman on audio and Jorge Arzac on video, is assembling a beautiful testament to the value of our national parks, and we are excited to share this celebration of these treasured places with you!
This video album is Music in the American Wild’s first collaboration with ArtistShare, and it is a jumping off point for a new kind of musical experience. The American Wild Ensemble is committed to bringing new music to new audiences and new venues, focusing on the people, places, and ideas that have shaped American history and culture. We want to document different facets of the American experience with context-driven new music that builds and strengthens bonds between artists and communities across the nation. We hope you will join us as we strive to bring artists and audiences together to celebrate their shared spaces and shared values.