Gustavus Music Department and Arboretum Collaborate on Earth Day Bass Workshop and Performance During Arboretum’s 50th Anniversary Posted on April 6th, 2023 by

The Gustavus Adolphus College Music Department and Arboretum have come together to host a unique Earth Day Bass Workshop and Performance. The workshop will be in Bjorling Hall on April 22nd from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The final performance begins in Björling at 4 p.m. and moves outside and across the street to the Gustavus Arboretum for the grand finale of Eve Beglarian’s A Murmur in the Trees for 24 basses. The schedule is as follows, but is subject to change: 

8:30 a.m. Registration
9:00 a.m. Welcome Session
9:30 a.m. Volkan Orhan Masterclass
10:45 a.m. Kristen Bruya Masterclass
12:00 p.m.  Orchestral section coaching

12:30 p.m. Lunch

1:00 p.m. Beglarian Dress Rehearsal
2:30 p.m. Bass Ensemble/solo rehearsal
4:00 p.m. Ensemble/Solo Recital, Bjørling
5:00 p.m. A Murmur in the Trees, Arboretum
5:30 p.m. Reception

The two leads of this collaboration came together to discuss the inspiration behind this day, as well as the process of designing the program.

“A lot of times basses get left out of traditional chamber ensembles, and my favorite kind of music making has always been chamber music,” said Dr. Rolf Erdahl, Assistant Professor of Bass at Gustavus Adolphus College. “I’ve been looking for ways to do that, so the Bass Workshop itself is going to take the form of a mixture of master classes, coachings, and performances. The workshop is kind of an a la carte thing, so people can take in as much or as little as they want.”

“And the grand finale of A Murmur in the Trees by Eve Beglarian is going to be really exciting. The piece is kind of a magical experience where the notes performed were suggested by natural markings on a piece of birch bark. You go out in the woods and basses are spread all through the area and they basically converge on the audience. I’m thrilled it just happens to fall on Earth Day–I think it really has some nice resonance with kind of feeling how music and life and nature are all connected and the Arboretum is such a beautiful place to do this.”

The workshop and performance will be on Earth Day, April 22nd, and also happens to coincide with the Gustavus Arboretum’s 50th anniversary. Scott Moeller, Naturalist and Director of the Gustavus Arboretum, echoes Erdahl’s hope that the event will connect the way music and nature collaborate in our lives.

“There has been a lot of music happening in the Arboretum over the years but we’ve never–to my knowledge–had a music event like this one where the instruments are sort of enticing people to come into the woods to hear the music,” said Moeller. “I don’t know what this is going to sound like. We’re used to hearing lots of different sounds walking down the trails of the woods at the Arboretum, but I don’t know what that is going to sound like with the music. I’m really excited to hear it and experience it and learn what other people think about it.”

This event combines many different focuses–bass techniques, varying musical forms, and Earth day. Demonstrating the multifaceted approach of a collaborative effort, Erdal and Moeller each gave a unique perspective on what they want the audience to gain from the event.

“The takeaway is a little different for those who are in the audience and those who are the participants,” said Erdahl. “For the audience, it’s to hear how amazingly beautiful the bass can sound in orchestral and other settings. For the participants, the real goal is to have a chamber music experience. I think it’s really one of the most powerful ways to enhance your music-making when you’re making music with other people. When you’re in a smaller ensemble  it really heightens your awareness of the people that are forming music with you. A good chamber music performance is almost always more than the sum of its parts. There’s something really magical that happens, and I hope people can come away with that feeling.”

“If we want people to do good for the Earth, step one is for them to care about nature. In order to learn how to care about nature, you have to first learn that you love nature, and you’ve got to get yourself outside,” said Moeller. “So, step one is just getting people outdoors, and that’s why I think this event is going to be really cool. It’s a new unique way to draw people outside.”

A Murmur in the Trees is happening on April 22, at 4 p.m. and tickets are not required.  The event is sponsored by the Gustavus Fine Arts Office, the Gustavus Department of Music, the Arboretum, and Zeitgest New Music.


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