Orchestral performances of composer Michael Gordon's 'Natural History' will be presented Friday and Saturday at Crater Lake National Park.

Britt Orchestra premieres 'Natural History' at Crater Lake

Crater Lake's boundless scenery will connect with the premiere of composer Michael Gordon's "Natural History" as part of the National Park Service's centennial celebration.

Members of the Britt Orchestra, conducted by Teddy Abrams, along with members of Steiger Butte Drum — a group made up of Klamath tribal members, 30 brass and percussion students from Southern Oregon University, and a 70-member regional choir, will perform Gordon's composition — commissioned by Britt Festivals — Friday and Saturday, July 29-30, at Picnic Hill near Rim Village at Crater Lake National Park.

Performances are set for 2 and 5 p.m. July 29 and 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. July 30. The performances are free to all park visitors — park entrance fees will apply.

“We have been searching for innovative and unique opportunities with which to showcase Crater Lake for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service,” says Craig W. Ackerman, superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, in a press release. "The Britt performances do all that and more. A place-based musical composition will connect the spectacular scenery and resources of the lake with a cultural and artistic heritage that stretches beyond the founding of the park. These performances will attract national recognition for the park, the Rogue Valley and all of Southern Oregon.”

Gordon spent time last year at Crater Lake to draw on the living landscape and the ancient lake for inspiration for his new composition.

“ 'Natural History' is designed to be an experiential, spatial work,” Gordon says in the same press release. “The idea is to draw out the natural sounds in and around Crater Lake and connect the natural sonic environment to the orchestra.”

Gordon’s work has been informed by his tours of the park with Ackerman and park historian Stephen Mark, and by spending a week in a ranger’s house during the winter. He also spent an afternoon working with Steiger Butte Drum, an extended family from the Klamath Tribes that sings and collectively plays a large drum. The drum group members are the soloists of "Natural History."

According to Britt Orchestra music director Abrams, "This collaboration strives to create a work of musical art that truly binds the natural environment and topography of Crater Lake with a musical landscape and experience. It’s important to us that this work feels deeply connected to the environment, instead of us simply presenting music in a beautiful place.”

Limited seating and accommodations will be available at the concerts. At press time, a limited number of seats for free bus rides to the performances were still available. Those who wish to ride the bus should make reservations online at brittfest.org or by calling 541-773-6077 or 800-882-7488.

In addition to the five orchestral performances of Gordon’s "Natural History," there will be performances presented by individuals and ensembles scattered around the park. Look for these live performances in between the times allotted for the full orchestra's presentations at such locations at Watchman Overlook, Phantom Ship Overlook and Cloudcap Overlook.

A schedule of these small ensemble performances is available online at brittfest.org.

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