Friday, July 24, 2015

Grizzly Bears and VCCA Fellows in Denali National Park

There have been several recent occurrences of a VCCA-nature in the inspiring 49th State.

Earlier this month Fellow Eric Moe was in Denali National Park as part of their “Composing in the Wilderness” program.

Eric’s residency overlapped with VCCA staff member Kimberley Stiffler’s visit to the park, a coincidence discovered by Sarah Sargent, VCCA’s Director of Communications and Grants Management.

On July 14th Kimberley and her husband Dan flew to Anchorage and rented a Jeep for the rainy drive north to the park. The next morning brought blue skies and a view of Denali, white clouds parting to reveal massive snow-capped peaks. On average only around 30% of visitors to the park see the mountain because of the ever-changing weather.

The next day, a park bus shuttled them to the Eielson Visitors Center to get a closer view of Denali following a trail-less hike along the Toklat River. Two grizzly bears were spotted from the shuttle en route. An exhibit in the Center featured a piece by VCCA Fellow and visual artist Margo Klass of Fairbanks, a past participant in the park’s artist-in-residence program.

On their last evening Kimberley and Dan attended a live performance by the Denali Chamber Orchestra as part of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The concert included “Denali for String Orchestra” and “Teklanika”, works by two of last year’s participants in the “Composing in the Wilderness” program. Eric Moe’s brand-new piece composed during his stay in Denali had its world premier a few days later on July 21st at Davis Concert Hall in Fairbanks, played by the Concert Black ensemble with Andie Springer, violin. 

Eric’s work, entitled “The Voice of Mountain Torrents”, is scored for piccolo, violin, contrabass, and percussion.

During the return flight to Virginia, Kimberley finished reading VCCA Fellow Nancy Lord’s Green Alaska: Dreams from the Far Coast, a reflection on the 1899 Harriman Alaska Expedition. Nancy writes of John Muir, one of the expedition’s travelers: “He knew we needed such places, would always need them [. . .] as temples for our souls.”





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