Nine composers from around the world share their inspiration with audiences this week, after spending time in Denali National Park and experiencing it in the company of park experts. None of them have ever been to Alaska.
Their arrival coincided with smoke from wildfires, so the first couple days’ attention was focused not on expansive views, but on the tundra underfoot and glacial streams of the park. Their musical compositions reflect that close inspection.
Composing In The Wilderness enters its eighth year this summer, a unique collaboration between Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, National Park Service, Alaska Geographic and the U.S. Forest Service.
Here’s how it works. Nine composers spend four or five days in the wilderness of Denali National Park, create a musical composition based on their inspiration and experience and then have it performed by professional musicians the following week. Local residents always appreciate that the premiere concert is held at the park’s Denali Visitor Center. The premiere was Monday night. The concert will be held again tonight at 7 p.m. in the Davis Concert Hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks
The musicians who bring the compositions to life make up CORVUS, the new music ensemble for Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. Members include Andie Springer, Katie Cox, Charles Akert, Alex LoRe and Joe Bergen. All are top-notch contemporary musicians.
The composing program is so popular that a second, more immerse option was offered beginning in 2018. Composers embarked on a week-long canoe trip in the second largest national park in the country, Gates of the Arctic. The 2018 pieces premiered at Federal Hall National Memorial in New York City last November. This year, the second group will go sea kayaking at Prince William Sound. Again, those pieces will premiere in New York City.
The 2019 composers include Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer, Jason Gibson, Andrew Israelsen, Skip LaPlante, Andrew Simpson and Jordan Stevenson, all of the United States; Angus Davison and Margery Smith, both of Australia; and Luciano Williamson, of the United Kingdom.
It is the mission of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival to help participants awaken their inner artist, enrich lives by increasing personal and professional growth, and engage the spirit, intellect and energy in an empowering way.
“Composing in the Wilderness supports this vision by providing a life-changing artistic adventure, a deep sense of community, and a genuine connection to wilderness,” according to the Composing in the Wilderness website.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.