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Composing in the Wilderness

Fairbanks, AK      

Composing in the Wilderness is not a class or a workshop, but a shared wilderness experience for adventurous composers at all levels. We welcome professionals, as well as university faculty members and students.

Now in its ninth year, Composing in the Wilderness is presented by the FAIRBANKS SUMMER ARTS FESTIVAL in partnership with ALASKA GEOGRAPHIC, the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, and the U.S FOREST SERVICE. It is led by adventurer-composer STEPHEN LIAS.

Working with experienced guides, naturalists, and scientists, we take composers into the backcountry of Alaska’s wilderness and provide them with an intense and immersive adventure. With this as their inspiration, the composers then have the opportunity to compose original chamber music that is premiered by top-notch contemporary music performers on staff at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

Each year, our group is made up of a diverse group of composers from all levels of their career (student, professional, professor, freelance), and from many countries around the world.  We value this diversity and encourage applicants of all ages and nationalities.

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.

Composing in the Wilderness Teaser


Composing in the Wilderness gives participants the opportunity to explore the inspiring wilderness of Alaska’s backcountry, compose music about it, and have it premiered by top performers.

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Corvus: Composing in the Wilderness Excerpts from 2015, 2016, and 2017

Participants have their new works premiered by Corvus – the new music ensemble of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The instrumentation changes from year to year, but it is generally a mixed quintet of top performers from New York. Regulars in the group have been Andie Tanning (Wild Shore New Music), Katie Cox (Exploring the Metropolis), Charlie Akert (Ensemble: Périphérie), Owen Weaver (Concert Black), Joe Bergen (Mantra Percussion), Kate Sheeran (Kaufman Center), Alex LoRe (No Net” Nonet), and Domenica Fossati (Underground Systems).

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Christopher North – “Nellie Juan’s Scratchiti”

Corvus premieres Christopher North’s piece at Federal Hall National Memorial in Manhattan on November 22, 2020. Christopher was a participant on Composing in the Wilderness’s Prince William Sound kayaking trip.

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