Sounds of the wild are music to
Using sounds from the environment,
specifically the sounds of wild animals found in Virginias
Nelson County, Judith Shatin creates the basis of her latest
composition, Singing the Blue Ridge.
Shatin, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Music and chair of the
McIntire Department of
Music, loves sound. She hears in the world around her rich
sources for her compositions. Its both the animal sounds
themselves the hum of the river otter, the scream of the
mountain lion, the snort of the deer, the howl of the wolf
and the musical quality of the sounds that fascinates her.
am intrigued with bringing the natural world into the creative
process, said Shatin. Its ironic that I am using
technology to get at that nature.
Singing the Blue Ridge, scored for mezzosoprano, baritone,
orchestra and electronics and poetry, Shatin uses the voices of
the indigenous animals to create the electronics. (For technically
crisp recordings of some of the animal voices, Shatin turned to
sources such as the McCaulay Natural Sound Library at Cornell
University.) Barbara Goldberg, of Washington, D.C., has written
poetry specifically for the composition. s
by Tom Cogill
is not just another orchestral piece for Shatin. There is
nothing like this in the literature, nothing that combines orchestra,
singers and the live sounds of animals, she said.
by Wintergreen Performing Arts Inc. through the Animating Democracy
Initiative, a program of Americans for the Arts, which is funded
by the Ford Foundation, Shatins composition is part of a
unique project, Preserving the Rural Soundscape. The
goal of the music-based project is to explore issues of growth
by stimulating citizens to be aware of the richness of their natural
surroundings. It also encourages people to get involved in creating
a new county comprehensive plan.
is participating in other parts of the soundscapes project, meeting
and working with civic groups and students, leading sound walks
and conversations to help them relate to their environments through
sound. She asks local residents to listen closely to their surroundings
and then record sounds that express to them the meaning of place.
These soundscapes will be available on a community Web site as
a way to heighten awareness of the effects of human habitation
in relation to growth, land use and preservation issues.
the Blue Ridge will premiere July 5 and 6 during the Wintergreen
Summer Music Festival, with David Wiley conducting. Shatin will
participate in pre-concert talks, as well as post-concert discussions.
In late June, Nelson county high school students will hear a small
portion of the piece as part of the Soundscapes in the School
event. Through Wintergreens Summer Academy, a program for
orchestral instrument and voice students, ages 16 to 22, Shatin
will help participants experiment with the unpredictable relationship
between instruments in musical dialogue and improvisation.