I Went to the Woods – Debut of New Work – Peterborough, NH

| July 19, 2013

“Music in Every Sound”: Henry David Thoreau in sound, images, and words

Walden_Pond_by_Robert_Fay_600American naturalist and author Henry David Thoreau believed “there is music in every sound,” and held that the natural world was an ongoing miracle perceptible to anyone whose eyes were truly open. Electric Earth Concerts has built an entire evening’s entertainment around Thoreau’s persona and ideas, and the influence of his transcendental thought on the art of music. Several Thoreau-inspired pieces will share space on the program with utterances from the writer’s probingly poetic journals, and with a photographic essay on his New England haunts created by the late photographer Robert Sargent Fay. The mixed-media program is a multi-faceted journey infused with the spirit and ideas of America’s greatest natural philosopher.

This program includes the debut of Lawrence Siegel’s I Went to the Woods, about which he says:

“It was at MacDowell that the notion of moving to the woods began to become a firm plan: which I followed in 1986 by moving to Westmoreland, NH, where I still live. Despite having read Thoreau as a teenager- who hasn’t!- it was only with the gracious commissioning of this duo for Laura and Jonathan that I came to understand how much I had been channeling Thoreau all these years, and, thus, how this journey reflects a longstanding strain of American thought. It’s a comforting idea! The sentence in Walden that led to the title of this Duo is this:

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

The piece is a song without words- words like the title used both to inspire the piece and to actually help shape the melodic lines. They include snippets from “Tom Bowling,” purported to be Thoreau’s favorite song, an elegy to Thoreau by Louisa May Alcott, and the above sentence from Walden, Thoreau’s most famous work, about leaving the course of normal daily human life and retreating to the woods.

Thoreau stayed two years at Walden Pond. Excepting a few lovely years in Minneapolis-Saint Paul in the early nineties, I have been in the woods since 1986. It has all been about trying to live deliberately.”

The program also features Charles Ives’ “Concord” Sonata,  performed by acclaimed pianist Randall Hodgkinson. The evening begins with Toru Takemitsu’s 1981 “Toward the Sea,” which describes a visit to Cape Cod, set to Robert Fay’s images. “Talking to Vaseduva,” Nathan Davis’ uniquely conceived percussion work for a natural “xylophone” of found riverbed stones, is perfectly in sync with the evening’s theme. In addition to Larry’s Woods, a new piece from composer Dominic Coles will then be heard for the first time. The program is threaded through with readings by actors Pamela White and Warren Hammack. A new soundscape commissioned from composer Nicholas Stoia completes the evening’s highly varied yet tightly woven experience.

Speaking about the event, co-Artistic Director Jonathan Bagg says: “We are excited to present an event that reaches beyond established notions of what a concert is; the mingling of Thoreau’s ideas with images and music look for something compelling built on the entirety of the experience. This is a one-of –a-kind evening, never to be repeated in this exact form.”

The program takes place in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture in Peterborough, on Saturday, August 24, at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $25. For reservations contact Electric Earth Concerts at eeconcerts@nullgmail.com,  call Miki Osgood at(603) 593-5245 or visit our website: Electricearthconcerts.org.  Admission to all Electric Earth concerts is free to middle school and high school students.


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