Established in 1902, Crater Lake is the fifth oldest national park and Oregon's only national park. Its stunning blue water has inspired awe in nature enthusiasts, artists, and photographers from all over the world. On July 29, the Britt Orchestra and Music Director Teddy Abrams will introduce music lovers to the majesty of the park with the world premier of Michael Gordon's composition, "Natural History."
The deep blue waters that fill the caldera of Mount Mazama and form Crater Lake are made solely by rain and snow. With no inflow or outflow at the surface, the water is crystal clear, which is just one of the reasons it is often referred to as one of the most beautiful crater lakes in the world. Surrounded by stunning sheer cliffs that tower almost two thousand feet high, Crater Lake is also the deepest lake in the United States.
Inspired by Crater Lake's beauty and distinctiveness, the Britt Orchestra's performances will be presented as part of the centennial celebration of the U.S. National Park Service. The project was made possible from funding provided by "Imagine Your Parks," a National Endowment for the Arts project that celebrates the 100th anniversary of National Parks. The National Park Service was created in August of 1916 to protect America's most iconic lands and wildlife, and Crater Lake is a beautiful example of why the service is so important.
The performances of "Natural History" will take place over two days and will feature approximately 40 members of the Britt Orchestra; 15 members of Steiger Butte Drum, composed of members of the Klamath Tribes; 30 brass and percussion students from Southern Oregon University; and a 70-voice regional choir. The Crater Lake Project has captured the attention of regional and national audiences and is drawing attendees from across the nation.
Britt Orchestra's Music Director Teddy Abrams says the goal of the performance is to make sure that the work feels deeply connected to the environment as opposed to simply presenting music in a beautiful place. He says, "For this collaboration, we want to create a work of musical art that truly binds the natural environment and topography of Crater Lake with a musical landscape and experience."
The park's superintendent, Craig W. Ackerman, says that they have been searching for original ways to showcase Crater Lake for the National Park Service's Anniversary celebration. He says, "A place-based musical composition will connect the spectacular scenery and resources of the lake with a cultural and artistic heritage that stretches beyond the founding of the park." He also believes the performances will attract national recognition for the park, the Rogue Valley, and all of southern Oregon.
To find inspiration for his composition, Michael Gordon spent time drawing on the living landscape and the ancient lake. He went on tours of the park with Ackerman and Park Historian Stephen Mark, and he even spent a week in the ranger's house during the winter, using the time to discover the park's natural sounds. He says, "The idea is to draw out the natural sounds in and around Crater Lake and connect the natural sonic environment to the orchestra."
The orchestral performances will take place six times over the course of two days. They are free to all park-goers who pay normal park entrance fees. The world premiere performance of "Natural History," slated for 10am on Friday, July 29, is invitation only. The rest of the performances, which will take place on Friday afternoon and evening and throughout Saturday, will be open to the public.
In addition to the "Natural History" performances, Crater Lake park visitors will find individuals and ensembles presenting music at The Watchman Overlook, Phantom Ship Overlook, and Cloudcap Overlook.
Seats are limited for free bus transport into the park for the performances, and reservations are required. Attendees should meet at the Thousand Springs Sno Park or Annie Creek Sno Park one hour before performance time, and those using the free bus transport will be returned to the pickup location immediately after each show ends.
Britt Orchestra - World Premiere Performance of "Natural History"
Friday, July 29, 10am
Britt Orchestra Performances of "Natural History"
Picnic Hill, near Rim Village Free and open to the public
Friday, July 29, 2pm and 5pm
Saturday, July 30, 11am, 2pm, and 5pm