Murray Bridge composer Jesse Budel has spent two weeks exploring the wilderness of Alaska and writing original music about it.
Now in its sixth year, the “Composing in the Wilderness” program is led by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias and offered as a joint venture between Alaska Geographic, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Denali National Park and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.
Nine composers spend more than a week in the back country of two remote national parks in Alaska, then return to Fairbanks, where their newly composed pieces are rehearsed and performed at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.
The composers spend four days in Denali National Park, accompanied by top scientists and naturalists as they draw inspiration from the wildlife, geology, scenery, and adventure of their surroundings.
They are then flown by bush plane to the remote Coal Creek mining camp in Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, where they spend four more days composing.
Finally they are flown to Fairbanks.
Their pieces undergo a few days of intense rehearsals and are premiered in Denali National Park and Fairbanks.
The final concert included Budel’s new piece Silent Succession, which he said was “intended as a provocation, rooted in the concept of ecological succession”.
“It is an imagined prospective future where glacial and permafrost melt, fire and landslides have altered the Alaskan landscape such that its unique flora and fauna can no longer survive or adapt, their natural voices ultimately silenced,” he said.
The combination of composing workshop and wilderness experience is unique in the world of contemporary classical music, has proven life-changing for the participants.