This was the first overnight endurance performance - beginning at sunset and concluding at sunrise. This was also the first performance where I played guitar as well as piano, often times playing both simultaneously (as heard in the video). The reflection of the moon and the gentle round ringing of the strings bouncing off the rocks in the cool dense desert air made for a reverential experience of that mysterium tremedum so explicit in wild Nature. A meteor shower ballet leapt in the heavens throughout the night. We were graced by bats and curious coyotes, and there was a delicate percussion of stiff chaparral played by mice and insects on nocturnal missions. It was a sublime and gentle evening of wonder.
Testimonials / Stories from Death Valley
I love meeting the avid park goers and nature wanderers that frequent our wilderness - often times people will stop and listen for a while, some even come talk to me. I'm always happy to have a conversation with people while I play, and have heard so many beautiful stories about love and adventure. These conversations combine with the music to create unique songs. Here's an excerpt from our Death Valley NP performance, it includes one of my favorite interactions to date - a man tells me about his father and the love of his life, all set to music made on the spot and in the moment.
Below is an extended excerpt from the afternoon of the Death Valley National Park performance. I love the sound of the instrument in the salt basin - the way the sound is diffused by the vastness, and how the quality of that immensity is translated into a particularly beautiful silence.
Additional Work Samples
Below are some excerpts from an NPR interview conducted at our Grand Canyon NP performance. The music beneath the interview was recorded live during the dawn portion of the performance and is indicative of the music played over the course of the day - listen for the excited birds singing along to the piano.
Here's an excerpt from our Grand canyon performance at dawn. The birds during this performance were the highlight - they were so curious and loved to play with the piano - I would imitate calls and they would respond with apparent humor and playfulness.
In another recording from this performance (which I'll post when I'm able to sift through the full 15hr segment), you can hear a conversation we had with two 911 dispatchers who received a call from a character we met in the morning. The character, who we came to call 'The Purple Lady' - as she was dressed head-to-tow in purple - had called saying there was someone playing a grand piano on the edge of the canyon. After the Ranger came and talked to us, finding us to be abiding by all laws and fulfilling the conditions of our permit, she said she 'Loved the idea' and that it made her feel hopeful. The dispatchers said 'Once we took the call, everyone in the station wanted to come by and experience the magic - we just happened to get off earliest and came here straight after work.'
I'm beginning to sort through the hundreds of hours of recorded performances and am composing orchestral arrangements for them. I've been wanting to flesh out symphonic applications and score the pieces for a while - was looking to get some funding to support the intense development process for such an ambitious process but have been unsuccessful, so decided to take some time daily to chip away at the goal. It's slow-going but totally worth it. I've really enjoyed writing parts out by hand, and will continue to do so until we have a catalog for each park. Here's a "Death Valley Suite" hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Below are side-by-side .jpg versions of the press release, simply click and hold, then save to your device:
The Process Grand Piano + National Park + Improvised Sunrise-to-sunset Concert
We bring a grand piano into National Parks, BLM land, and areas of threatened wilderness to perform sunrise-to-sunset endurance concerts (from sunrise-to-sunset or sunset-to-sunrise) that advocate for conservation and stewardship. The music is improvised - the artist responds to the unique inspiration inherent in the Nature that surrounds them. This process is recorded and turned into multi-medium artifacts to be shared with UNESCO, the NPS, and audiences beyond the immediate space and time of the performance.
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