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Wisconsin’s environment inspires Earth Day Concert

April 14, 2010

Can we hear ecology? Sixteen musicians — including four composers — from the University of Wisconsin–Madison believe we can.

They aim to prove it in a free concert of new compositions honoring Wisconsin’s environment and its most revered environmentalists at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20 in Promenade Hall at the Overture Center.

Called “Ecotones: A Musical Ecology of Wisconsin,” the concert is part of the local Earth Day 40th anniversary celebration hosted by UW–Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. It will feature three world premieres:

  • – “Horizons,” a lyrical piece for tenor and chamber ensemble based on the writings of Wisconsin author Sigurd Olson, by horn professor Douglas Hill.
  • “The Awakening Land,” by doctoral student Chris Bocast, mixing field recordings of environmental sounds with guitar and piano and inspired by the writings of Wisconsin author Ben Logan.
  • “Gatherings,” by sociologist and folk artist Michael Bell, blending bluegrass and classical styles in a “class-grass” celebration of the environmental writings of Wisconsinites including Laura Ingalls Wilder, Gaylord Nelson, and Keewaydinoquay Peschel.

Rounding out the program are “Seasons” by tuba professor John Stevens, an ode to our state’s ever-changing climate, performed by the Wisconsin Brass Quintet; and Hill’s “Marshland,” drawn from Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” and narrated by Leopold biographer Curt Meine, a UW–Madison graduate.

“Ecotones” will showcase the talents of some of Madison’s best-known musicians. Besides members of the brass quintet, performers include Parry Karp on cello, Martha Fischer on piano, Bruce Gladstone singing tenor, Linda Bartley on clarinet, John Aley on trumpet, Mark Hetzler on trombone, Chris Wagoner on violin, jazz singer Mary Gaines, and Shauncey Ali, the 2008 Wisconsin Grand Champion fiddler.

No tickets are required for the concert but seating is limited. For more information, visit and click on “Earth Day Concert.”