ROCHESTER, NY It’s not everyday that you get to hear live concert music performed at Webster Park, a picturesque spot on the shore of Lake Ontario in Webster, New York (northeast of Rochester). Yet Robert Morris, a progressive concert-music composer and chair of the composition department at the Eastman School of Music, has conceived a composition for orchestra and soloists to be played outdoors at the public park. The piece, titled Playing Outside, is scored for more than 50 musicians scattered throughout the park’s woods and trails. The piece is exactly 100 minutes long and will be performed twice on Sunday, September 30, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. (Rain date is Oct. 7.)
Morris, who has lived in Rochester since 1980, came up with the idea for this ambitious work while hiking on the Park’s intricate web of ski trails in the summer of 1996. "I was so fascinated by these wooded trails that I made a map of them with a friend. I felt a connection between these trails and the kind of music I write, so I thought it would be interesting to bring them together in a musical composition. But this music would not be concert music per se, but something like ambient music, where the music blends into the environment in this case into the sounds and sights of the fields and forests of the park."
The composition will be presented and performed byOssia, an organization of young composers and performers studying at Eastman, as well as the School’’s gamelan ensemble. Ossia has mounted many important compositions of recent music by composers such as Steve Reich, John Cage, and Gyorgy Ligeti. It asks Rochester musicians and other artists for proposals every spring for possible production on its concert/event series.
"My piece would have been impossible to bring to performance without Ossia," says Morris. "The musicians will play in various places in the park, both independently and in groups, sometimes moving from one location to another. Since Ossia has produced many exceptional and novel pieces and events, the students are enthusiastic about playing new music that expands the boundaries of what music can be and where it can occur."
Upon arrival to the park (999 Lake Road, from Hard Road in Webster), the audience will be given a program of events with a map of the places in the park where musical events will take place and when. Some people may choose to stroll through the park to hear the music and sounds; others may wish to be escorted by guides to the main musical events. (In either case, please allow 30 minutes for parking, followed by walking to your preferred spot. Bring a portable chair or blanket.) Various kinds of improvisational music, played by soloists as well as full ensembles, will be heard on the paths and in the park’s woods and fields. No one including the composer will be able to hear all of the musical sections in one performance. The idea is to provide a rich assortment of musical experiences celebrating the relations between people and the natural environment.
For more information on this work, visit http://lulu.esm.rochester.edu/rdm/PLAYING.OUTSIDE.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Robert Morris is available for interviews.