Robert Morris, a well known composer teaching at the Eastman School, has devoted a good deal of the last ten years of his compositional career to writing music to be played outdoors. The most recent of these compositions, Arboretum, will be played at the Jack Kent Arboretum on September 19, 2010 twice, at 2 and 4 p.m (rain date is September 25). The composition will be performed by the OSSIA music ensemble, a musical institution that has presented new music of all kinds to the greater Rochester public for the past fifteen years.
The composition Arboretum is a slowing unfolding, mainly gentle musical experience. Like the different trees in an arboretum, the music presents 50 different evolving harmonies, each lasting one minute with occasional interludes of mysterious noises or drones. The composition lasts approximately 58 minutes. The audience is invited to wander around the performance space and listen to the music from different perspectives and orientations. Some may want to sit down and listen to the piece as it slowly evolves, while others may wish to enter and leave the performance from time to time.
The Webster Arboretum is beautiful park of woodland trails, open meadows, flower gardens, two gazebos and a hedge maze. It is located at 1700 Schlegel Road in Webster, New York (northeast of Rochester, New York). You can visit the Arboretum's website at http://websterarboretum.org/index.php.
The audience should plan to arrive 20 minutes early to allow for parking and walking into the Webster Arboretum and bring a seat or blanket to the performance. More information, including driving directions, may be found at http://ecmc.rochester.edu/rdm/ARBORETUM/
Arboretum was not necessarily meant to be played in an Arboretum. In fact, its first performance was to take place on April 2, 2009
in the Kiva Plaza on the University of New Mexico's campus. However, at the last moment, that performance had to called indoors, due to cold weather, rain, and wind. The present performance at the Webster Arboretum will therefore be the piece's first outdoor performance.
Robert Morris's previous outdoor compositions have been performed at Mills College in Oakland, California, the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, and Syracuse University, as well at the Eastman House and in the greater Rochester area. Some of these pieces are site-specific, so they have only been performed once, others are mobile, like Arboretum.
The relationship between music and nature has long been a theme in Morris's music. He shares this concern with many other composers--such as Beethoven, Bartok, Ives, Messiaen, Cage, the British impressionists, Stockhausen, R. Murray Schafer and others--who have forged deep connections between music and nature. More about the composer can be found at http://lulu.esm.rochester.edu/rdm/morris.bio.html.