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National Park Centennial Commissions Commercial CD Recording

Studio recording and commercial CD release of commissions in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial

Overview

BACKGROUND

In 2016 the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble celebrated the 100th birthday of the National Park System by commissioning eight composers whose work especially resonated with the environment. The composers created music based on one of four national parks: Wind Cave, Badlands, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. Supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, these commissions were premiered July 1-9, 2016 in numerous spaces within the lands that inspired their creation. From outdoor amphitheaters and visitor centers, to the country’s largest log cabin structure, over 5,000 park visitors were exposed to contemporary chamber music through these performances. In May 2017 the ensemble recorded all the works, plus two national park commissions from 2014, at Solid Sound Studios in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The recording has been edited and mixed.

 

PROJECT PROPOSAL

We would like to have the CD professionally mastered by Silas Brown (Legacy Sound) and released on Innova Recordings. Both have committed. The NEA grant we received was for commission fees and performances only, so we are looking to New Music USA for financial support to finish the CD.

 

THE MUSIC

The ten commissions reflect the immense diversity of the National Parks, while capturing their inspiring landscapes and wildlife. Alexandra Gardner’s Vixen portrays the spirit of Yellowstone’s unpredictable Vixen geyser. Molly Joyce’s Bite the Dust is based on the process of rapid erosion in Badlands National Park. Teewinot, composed by Betsey Biggs, presents a sonic time lapse of Teewinot Mountain, within Grand Teton National Park. Patrick Harlin’s Reflecting Pool, based on Wind Cave National Park, captures the structure of the caves in addition to the emotional aspects of exploring them. Rob Deemer’s Firehole Mists is based on the beautiful mist of Yellowstone National Park’s Firehole River. Heat curls up from the dust, composed by Jeff Herriott, is based on the emerging details that reveal themselves when taking in the landscapes of Grand Teton National Park. Paula Matthusen’s on the analogical understandings of space treats the caves of Wind Cave National Park as a synthesizer, combining cave sounds with the ensemble. Phil Kline’s Dawn Chorus is based on the bird song of the Western Meadowlark, common to Badlands National Park. Ashley Stanley’s Night Sketches conveys the vast starry night skies of Arches National Park. Finally, David Biedenbender’s Red Vesper presents a sonic mediation based on Capitol Reef National Park.

Instrumentation: flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, soprano/alto saxophone, violin, cello, percussion, piano. Six of the compositions use either live or fixed media electronics.

 

THE PROJECT TEAM

The project will be produced by ensemble director Bill Ryan, who produced the ensemble’s four previous CDs. Eric Wojahn (Solid Sound) was the chief recording engineer, and Silas Brown (Legacy Sound) will master the recording. Eric has recorded such notables as the Prism Quartet and Take 6, and Silas is a Grammy winning engineer who has worked with artists including ICE, John Zorn, the Chicago Symphony, Anne Akiko Meyers, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Project Media

GVSU NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE SAMPLE #1
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(listen 3:15-6:15)

The GVSU New Music Ensemble perform David Biedenbender’s “Red Vesper”, Allendale, MI, April 6, 2017. Commissioned for the group’s 2014 National Park tour, the work is based on Capitol Reef National Park. It features the ensemble and wilderness sounds from national parks they have visited and recorded.

Personnel: Hannah Donnelly (flute), Amy Zuidema (clarinet), Karsten Wimbush (alto saxophone), Krista Visnovsky (violin), Kevin Flynn (cello), Reese Rehkopf (piano), Wade Selkirk (percussion)

GVSU NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE SAMPLE #2
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(listen 1:00-4:00)

The GVSU New Music Ensemble perform Paula Matthusen’s “on the analogical understandings of space” at New Music Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music 9, Wasserman Projects, Detroit, MI, 9/17/16.

This work, based on the sounds of Wind Cave National Park, was commissioned and toured as part of our 2016 National Parks project. Personnel: Hannah Donnelly (flute), Denise Finnegan (clarinet), Karsten Wimbush (alto saxophone), Sarah Dowell (violin), Kevin Flynn (cello), Reese Rehkopf (piano), Wade Selkirk (percussion).

GVSU NEW MUSIC ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE SAMPLE #3
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(listen 1:00-4:15)

The GVSU New Music Ensemble performs Alexandra Gardner’s “Vixen” at New Music Detroit’s Strange Beautiful Music 9, Wasserman Projects, Detroit, MI, 9/17/16.

Vixen was commissioned and toured as part of our 2016 National Parks project. It is based on the Vixen Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Personnel: Hannah Donnelly (flute), Denise Finnegan (clarinet), Karsten Wimbush (alto saxophone), Sarah Dowell (violin), Kevin Flynn (cello), Reese Rehkopf (piano), Wade Selkirk (percussion).

Start and End Dates

05/01/201911/05/2019

Location

Allendale, Michigan

Project Created By

Allendale, Michigan
Based in Allendale, Michigan, the New Music Ensemble at Grand Valley State University promotes the music of our time through commissions, tours, recordings, educational events, workshops, and videos. Founded in 2006 by their director Bill Ryan, the ensemble not only prepares students for careers that include contemporary music, but also helps them become exceptional educators,…

In Collaboration With

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