My workÂ Transforming Forest (2018), commissionedÂ byÂ Montage Music SocietyÂ for World Premiere at SITE Santa Fe this past spring, is now available for online streaming!
In the following video, I pair the ensemble’s gorgeous studio recording with my photography of the music’s inspiration: four site-specific land art installations by Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio of San Francisco, CA. Video of a live performance of Transforming ForestÂ on Montage Music Society’s Altazano Salon SeriesÂ is also available for viewing.
studio video credits
Performed by Montage Music SocietyÂ (Elizabeth Baker, violin; Sally Guenther, cello; Debra Ayers, piano). Audio Recording, Mixing, Editing, and Mastering: Rick Bolton (Rick_Bolton@iCloud.com).Â Photography and Video Editing by Nell Shaw Cohen.
Live Video credits
Performed by Montage Music SocietyÂ (Elizabeth Baker, violin; Sally Guenther, cello; Debra Ayers, piano). VideoÂ by Vincent Stenerson. Photography by Nell Shaw Cohen.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Transforming Forest was commissioned by Montage Music Society for World Premiere at SITE Santa Fe in March 2019. InÂ this work for violin, cello, and piano, each short movement is inspired by one of four site-specific installations created by British artist Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio of San Francisco: a park and former U.S. Army military fort in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These remarkable installations were created by Goldsworthy between 2008 and 2014 using organic, on-site materials such as tree branches and soil.
Sites of urban wilderness in the Bay Area have frequently served as points of reference in my creative process. The Presidioâ€™s landscape of eucalyptus and cypress was formative: my childhood home was steps from the sites where these installations were later created. Having made countless pilgrimages to these works by Goldsworthy, I felt impelled to formulate a musical response to these powerful places.
Goldsworthyâ€™s four Presidio installations are transformed through the growth of surrounding vegetation, the elements, the passage of time, and visitor interactions. In my response, I sought to evoke different kinds of transformation connected to each of the four installations.
Wood LineÂ is a long, curving line of eucalyptus branches (1,200 feet) placed along the forest floor. Many times, Iâ€™ve traced this path with my own feetâ€”walking alongside it, or balancing on top of the branches themselves, the surfaces of which have become smooth from the wear of footsteps over the years. In my response, â€œTracing,â€ a musical motif is continually â€œtracedâ€ through heterophony: picked up by each of the instruments in different tempi and registers.
Tree FallÂ is a tree trunk suspended from the roof of a small, disused military building. The trunk and roof were covered in wet clay, which developed intricate, cracking patterns on its surface while drying. In â€œCracking,â€ a dark, chorale-like music, conveying the womb-like interior of the building, â€œcracksâ€ open into a rhythmically dynamic middle section.
Goldsworthy createdÂ Earth WallÂ by burying and then excavating a sculpture made of eucalyptus branches from within a rammed earth wall at the Presidio Oï¬ƒcersâ€™ Club. A lively third movement, â€œExcavating,â€ evokes the spherical tangle of branches at the core of the wall through a building contrapuntal texture.
In the final movement, â€œObscuring,â€ climbing gestures in the piano are juxtaposed with sustained notes in the strings to capture the spatial quality ofÂ Spire: a 100-foot structure made from Monterey cypress trunks thrusting dramatically into the open sky. Contrasting material in triple meterâ€”tender at first, becoming increasingly robustâ€”gradually takes over. This music reflects the stand of young trees surroundingÂ Spire, which will eventually obscure it in years to come as these cypresses grow and mature.