Composer and "eco-acoustician" Matthew Burtner captures the sounds of Alaska's melting glaciers.
Grammy Award-winning percussionist Matthew Duvall
Matthew Duvall and his creative producer, Justin Peters, create musical instruments using pipes and planks for the Interlochen performance of Transient Landscapes.
Through Transient Landscapes, a large-scale participatory outdoor sound installation, Interlochen students will capture the sounds of a melting glacier.
Grammy-winning percussionist Matthew Duvall and award-winning composer Matthew Burtner's outdoor installation capturing the sounds of climate change, Transient Landscapes, will be brought to life by teens for the first time when Interlochen Arts Academy students perform the work on Interlochen’s snowy campus on Feb. 7, 2020, at 4 p.m.
On a field in the heart of Interlochen’s wooded northern Michigan campus, student performers will create a sonic representation of a tidal glacier through live performance and field recordings captured by Burtner. Students will play traditional percussion instruments as well as original instruments designed by Duvall. Audience members will disrupt the soundscape by playing audio files or simple instruments such as sandpaper while traversing the performance space—hinting at the relationship between the natural world and humankind.
"This interactive experience will connect participants with the natural world and one another in contemplation of these rapidly changing landscapes," Duvall said. "The audience creates the transience, or impermanence, in this landscape. When you do something with your hands, you develop a sense of ownership."
"With Australia facing the loss of nearly a billion animals to bushfires as only the latest devastating effect of climate change, and anxiety related to the environment on the rise among teenagers, this experience will illuminate how students can use their art to call attention to the climate crisis as citizen artists," said Camille Colatosti, Provost at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
For Duvall, bringing Transient Landscapes to life at Interlochen is particularly meaningful because he graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy in 1989, attended Interlochen Arts Camp in 1984 and 1985, and has since returned to campus many times as a Camp parent and guest artist. “The pristine natural beauty of the Interlochen campus makes it a particularly powerful setting and symbol of what we risk losing because of climate change,” Duvall said.
"The work confronts the transience of landscapes in an interconnected and human-altered world, a reality in which fossil fuels deep in the earth become atmosphere, glaciers become floodwater on the other side of the world, coasts become the sea, and the sea becomes plastic,” said Burtner, the Eleanor Shea Chaired Professor of Music in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia.
Transient Landscapes originated in 2018 when Sarasota’s Ringling Museum asked Duvall to curate a series of outdoor interactive events. After a site visit to Florida exposed Duvall to the impact of climate change on the Florida Keys, he decided to collaborate with Burtner, whose work in eco-acoustics focuses on climate change. Recordings of melting tidal glaciers Burtner had made in Alaska became the foundation of the project.
Under the direction of Marc Lacuesta, director of music production and engineering at Interlochen Arts Academy, students will record the Feb. 7 performance of Transient Landscapes on the Interlochen campus.
In addition to rehearsing and performing Transient Landscapes with students, both Duvall and Burtner will meet with student composers in small groups as part of their residency at Interlochen Arts Academy.
The Feb. 7 performance of Transient Landscapes reflects Interlochen Center for the Arts’ commitment to protect and preserve the environment. Interlochen has taken strides to reduce its carbon footprint through a variety of sustainability initiatives over the past few years. This includes the 2017 launch of the R.B. Annis Botanical Lab and Community Garden, where students learn firsthand about botany, agriculture, and ecology while providing fresh produce for the campus community; and Interlochen Arts Academy classes in ecology, agricultural science, nature photography, and the Art of Ecology, an interdisciplinary program in which students use science and art to increase the biodiversity of native forests on the Interlochen campus.
About Matthew Duvall
Matthew Duvall is Artistic Director, founding member, and percussionist of the award-winning chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America in 2016. The group, which records for Cedille Records, has received four Grammy Awards. Its other honors include the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, the Chamber Music Award from the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation, Chamber Music America’s inaugural Visionary Award, and the Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh Competition. Eighth Blackbird has served as ensemble-in-residence at the Curtis Institute of Music, the universities of Chicago and Richmond, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Duvall studied percussion with Michael Rosen at Oberlin College and Conservatory, also completing studies in classical civilization, art history, and religion. He attended the University of Cincinnati and Northwestern University for graduate and post-graduate degree coursework.
About Matthew Burtner
Matthew Burtner is an Alaskan-born composer, sound artist, and eco-acoustician whose music and research explores embodiment, ecology, polytemporality, and noise. First-prize winner of the Musica Nova International Electroacoustic Music Competition (Czech Republic), a 2011 IDEA Award Winner, and a recipient of the Howard Brown Foundation Fellowship, Burtner’s music has also received honors and awards from Bourges (France), Gaudeamus (Netherlands), Darmstadt (Germany), and The Russolo (Italy) international competitions. He is the Eleanor Shea Chaired Professor of Music in Composition and Computer Technologies (CCT) at the University of Virginia where he co-directs the Coastal Futures Conservatory. He is also director of the Alaskan-based environmental arts non-profit organization, EcoSono.
About Interlochen Arts Academy
Interlochen Arts Academy is the nation’s premier fine arts boarding high school, where emerging artists from around the world transform passion and potential into purpose. Guided by distinguished artists, students pursue pre-professional training in music, dance, theatre, visual arts, creative writing, and film alongside a robust academic curriculum, preparing them to excel in the arts and beyond. Nestled in scenic northwest Michigan, the Academy has been a leader in arts education since 1962 and has produced 46 Presidential Scholars in the Arts, more than any other high school in the country. To learn more, visit academy.interlochen.org. Follow Interlochen on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube at @interlochenarts.
The February 7 performance of Transient Landscapes is not open to the public, but content and updates related to this event will be posted on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube at @interlochenarts.