Keweenaw Soundscapes


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Photos by Christopher Plummer

As part of the NEA’s 50th anniversary, this year we are celebrating the magnificence of America’s national cultural treasures through art. The Imagine Your Parks grant program unites our mission with the National Park Service by connecting art projects with the natural, historic and cultural settings of the National Park System and will inspire a new generation to discover these special places and experience our great heritage.
NEA Chairman Jane Chu

Listening to Parks


Arts Works, National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks Grant

This past summer Libby Meyer, Kent Cyr and I wrote a grant for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Park Service that would build upon our success with our previous Intersection of the Arts and Natural World grant. This grant would be a two year project starting in May of 2015: gathering sounds and images, writing new music, creating and touring multimedia arts installations, working with local art classes, and finally creating a final multimedia installation. The culminating installation integrates soundscapes and K-12 student artistic responses into the Rozsa Art Gallery in conjunction with a new composition premiered by the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra that merges orchestra and local national park soundscapes.

We are thankful for the NEA’s support of this project and we hope we engage audiences with new ways to experience our local national parks.

Artistic Statement



Listening to Parks is an exploration through diverse art forms of local parks in ways that will promote enjoyment, stewardship, and lifelong learning. Our musical, visual and recorded explorations of what we hear will be interpreted and condensed into several different experiences that help others discover and appreciate this wonderful resource and to document this point in history.

Our process developing the art will be as important as the completed work. Our process will take us out into the field to interact with the park but also to consult with experts and for us to learn more about the details of animal and plant life, geology, and history of the parks. As we continue to deepen our relationship with the parks we will continuously be sharing our progress through presentations and collaborations. Insuring that there is not just a show but a building experience that touches as many people as possible including tourists, local conservation organizations and local schools. While initial installations will be of our work the final installation will include the work of local k-12 students.

The process of engagement over time is also the best part of marketing our work. Getting people involved and part of art making significantly increases the impact of art, provides a deeper appreciation for the work involved, and hopefully shares the joy of creation.

A New Orchestral Music Work will be the capstone of the project providing a musically interpreted experience of the parks sounds integrated with sounds from the parks. This piece will have sophisticated surround playback that will seamlessly integrate recorded sounds with the Orchestra and it will also have an open development. The final piece will have a movement premiered early and elements of the music will be integrated in materials we use with the schools helping students expand their ideas of how they can express their experiences.
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Photos by Christopher Plummer

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