ROCHESTER, NY — Robert Morris, chair of the Composition Department of the Eastman School of Music, has again found inspiration in the sights and sounds of nature, and produced a second work that draws audiences not into the concert hall but rather into a beautiful natural environment.
Morris has written a new outdoor piece, Coming Down to Earth, which will be performed three times on Sunday, October 3, at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. The free performances take place in the middle of Webster Park, on the shore of Lake Ontario in the town of Webster, northeast of Rochester. The performance setting is a beautiful pine grove near the Cattaraugus cabin. (The audience should arrive 20 minutes early to allow for parking and walking into the Park, and bring something to sit on in the woods.)
Many composers have written music inspired by natural settings; but only a few recent composers have composed music to be literally played outside, in natural surroundings such as parks, forests, hills, canyons and the like. “Throughout my career as a composer I have attempted continually to expand the boundaries of what music can be and where it can occur,” says Morris. “I’ve found when my music for the concert stage is taken outdoors, the audience tends to enjoy it very much. I believe this happens because when my music is performed in the midst of natural surroundings, it becomes obvious that it is inspired by and reflects my love of natural processes, textures, and sounds.” The music is not concert music per se, but something like ambient music, where the music blends into and comments musically on the sounds and sights of the natural location in which it is performed.
Coming Down to Earth will be produced by Ossia, an organization of young composers and performers studying at the Eastman School. Ossia has performed many important recent compositions by composers such as Steve Reich, Helmut Lachenmann, George Crumb, John Cage and György Ligeti. Hundreds came to hear Morris’ first major outdoor piece, Playing Outside, which was performed by Ossia and other Eastman performers in September 2001 throughout Webster Park.