In April, Seattle sound artist and composer Nat Evans will present two new works from his time on the Pacific Crest Trail at The Chapel - a new work for piano, and an installation.
First, on April 17th, pianist R. Andrew Lee
will be in Seattle playing a few new works, including Desert Ornamentation
- one of a few works sprung from Evans’ time last year hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. This 30 minute work for piano and field recording is specifically based around the idea of encountering monolithic human things when in supposed wilderness. The field recordings are of crackling, humming, buzzing power lines that the trail crosses, and as an accompaniment and sound collage slowly changes over time, so too do spare notes of the piano - a sort of sonic manifestation of the trickster coyote, which was also encountered numerous times in the desert. Desert Ornamentation
is a slow moving contemplative piece about a 700 mile walk in the desert, contemporary intersections of the human and natural worlds, and energy powering Los Angeles, draped across the land.
Also on the program are new works by New York City-based composers Craig Shepard
and Adrian Knight
April 17th - 8pmThe Chapel
at the Good Shepherd Center
$5-15 sliding scale suggested donation
On April 23rd from 7:30-8:30 Evans will present New Forest
- another work utilizing field recordings made on the Pacific Crest Trail - these from 2nd growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. New Forest
is a site-specific temporary installation to present sound. Evans collects natural objects from the place the installation and listening event is being held, creates shadow-like drawings to pair them with, then with the objects, drawings, and direction of light in a space creates a space for people to listen in. Tea is served as well, to further direct the senses towards listening and contemplation.
The field recordings are from places where the forest was clearcut in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Occasionally drifting through the field recordings will be 78 records playing of music that was popular around the time when the forest was clear cut. So, over time the listener will simultaneously hear music from the time when the forest was dramatically altered, and an update as to how the forest sounds around 60-70 years after the event. The 78 records were inherited by Evans from his grandfather, who was studying forestry during the 1940s on the GI Bill. So, besides being large events in our country’s history, New Forest
is also a very personal investigation into sound for the artist.
People are free to come and go while the installation is up. After the installation and listening event, a concert of works by John Teske
and Nick Norton
will be presented.
April 23rd - 7:30-8:30pm - New Forest installation and listening event 8:30 - concertThe Chapel
at the Good Shepherd Center
$5-15 sliding scale suggested donation
It’s been over five months now since I returned to Seattle from hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and though I feel totally different after that huge experience than I did before, getting down to work on various projects post-trail has been a great way to process the experience. My initial plan setting out on the PCT was to make field recordings, collaborate, and write music that would become an album. And, I’m happy to say I completed that work and releasing the album with Quakebasket records is currently in development - I can’t wait to share its release later this year. But, beyond that while out there I also came up with many other interdisciplinary sound-based works and some concert pieces as well. And, I’ve been busy creating those! So, below you’ll find info about projects I’ve completed, public presentations, and projects still under development. Have a look around!New Forest at Cornish College of the Arts
From February 23rd through March 9th I was fortunate enough to have a two-week residency at Cornish College of the Arts as part of the Artist Incubator program. During my time there I experimented with a couple different iterations of a listening based interaction and installation called New Forest.
For this piece I gather natural objects from around wherever it is being held, and create a series of ink drawings of the objects to pair with them to create the installation, in this case with very minimal light. Members of the public were then invited in two at a time to listen to field recordings I made on the trail. I told stories contextualizing each one, and offered tea to people as well. I also presented an iteration that was more performative and for a large group - people came and sat in the installation and I played a sort of collage of field recordings that lasted around a half an hour. I’ll be presenting this second more open public format at The Chapel
on April 23rd, and I hope to present the more intimate tea, storytelling and listening sessions around the country in the future.
How to Stay Dry in Northern Oregon, Choruses and Inquiries, Desert Ornamentation
Besides the album of music from the PCT, these installations and performative based works, I also wrote three more concert oriented works at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. Leander Star commissioned a new work for french horn and field recording which he’ll play at the Northwest Horn Symposium on April 11th. This work, How to Stay Dry in Northern Oregon
, involves a field recording of rain and thunder from Northern Oregon, a guided improvisation for the french horn, and someone playing a bird call. The performers will walk slowly behind the audience to perform the work.
This summer, LA-based bassist Scott Worthington will performing a new work I wrote for him called Choruses and Inquiries 50 Years After a Clearcut on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation
. This work utilizes two field recordings I made on a hot, dry evening in August in Northern Oregon, a couple days south of Mt. Hood by trail. The forest I was camped in had been clearcut in the 1950s, so the trees and forest weren’t that old; off to the east at the right angle you could glimpse the desert of eastern Oregon. That night I was visited first by numerous flies, bees and hornets hoping to glean moisture from my sweat soaked items, then as dark fell katydids and crickets created a roaring chorus late into the night. Interestingly, though these sounds were very loud to me, I recently discovered that the insects were chorusing at such high frequencies that most people over 50 cannot hear them due to hearing loss associated with age and environment! So, people’s experiences of this work will be radically different from one another. Look forward to hearing Scott play this at The Chapel
here in Seattle on August 19th - and keep your eyes peeled for additional performances!
Lastly, on April 17th here in Seattle
pianist Andy Lee will be presenting another work of mine about my experience in the desert for piano and field recording. This 30 minute work for piano and field recording is comprised of field recordings of power lines I encountered buzzing in the desert on my walk. As I saw them draped across the landscape I was taken not only by their sound, but also their ornamental nature carrying energy to Los Angeles, and the myriad intersections with nature as well. The piano work is very spare, semi-improvisatory, and connects the sounds together to create an atmosphere for contemplation.
Desert Time at Omaha Under the Radar
I’m really excited to present a new work for tenor Jeremiah Cawley at the Omaha Under the Radar
festival in July. This festival is only in its second year, but is already attracting some really fascinating projects from all over the country - we’re really excited to be a part of it. Desert Time
will be for solo tenor with field recordings, percussion instruments (played by Yours Truly) and electronics, with additional installation aspects, projections, and animations I’ll be making. Collectively, it will be a non-narrative theatrical piece about my experience of the desert on the Pacific Crest Trail - the sensing of time changing over time based on the light and sensation on my skin, the sense of place I began to feel as I moved at an exclusively human pace over the dry landscape, the incredible people I met who helped me along the way, interactions with animals I had, and comparing these experiences to ancient concepts of time, travel and journey in indigenous cultures that once inhabited the landscape.
Although we’re really excited to take part in this festival, we are still searching for some financial support to help make Desert Time
happen. Our overall budget to create the work, travel to Omaha and present it there is $3,500 dollars. We’ve been fortunate enough to receive some donations totally $1,300 so far, but we still need more to create the work and make this trip to Omaha happen. If you’re interested in supporting this project, Desert Time
, you can make a tax-deductible donation
through my non-profit umbrella, Fractured Atlas. Have a look
The Lowest Arc, a newly commissioned site and time specific sound installation by Seattle composer Nat Evans, will be installed beginning December 21 for an indeterminate exhibition period at ALL RISE. A one-night performative element will kick off the project on the winter solstice, December 21 from 4:00 – 5:30pm.
The Lowest Arc installation is written for six speakers, each with music drawn from a different natural element -the arc of the sun during the winter solstice, the moon, tidal data and other natural phenomenon. On December 21st, performers will join the installation with custom music boxes emitting tones representing constellations visible during the winter due to the tilt of the earth. These notes will be formed by superimposing constellations on a music staff.
Ultimately, the work will be experienced by moving around the 90,000 square foot ALL RISE site. On December 21 both audience and performers will create variable experiences of sound and space - the audience being invited to walk with a candle to light up this darkest day of the year; encountering different aspects of the sound installation as the tinkling of music boxes drifts by.
Date: Sunday, December 21st (rain or shine)
Performance Time: 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Performance Location: 1250 Denny Way, Seattle
At the time of my writing this, I’ve been back from my five-month wander in the wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail for about six weeks. Since then I've been re-adjusting to sleeping in a bed, enjoying taking a showers every day, and enjoying eating all the food I could ever want (something I obsessed over on the trail!). I’ve also been getting down to brass tacks recording music for the album that will be released on Quakebasket Records in 2015 in my home studio as well as in interesting reverberant spaces like the Georgetown Steam Plant. The Tortoise project has gotten some c
ool press lately too in publications like Bachtrack
Besides recording and releasing that album, I am also presenting a series of works relating to The Tortoise
project - and now with fiscal sponsorship through Fractured Atlas I am able to accept tax-deductible donations to make these things happen! Check it out right here
! By donating you are supporting work that strengthens our connection to the natural world, creates a greater sense of place and community, and inspires people to be more in the moment in their daily lives. Donations can be made once, or on an ongoing monthly basis. Some of the projects I am working on for presenting this material include:
-An event where audience members are invited to come sleep and listen to an installation of field recordings I made on the trail that lasts all night - occasional musical gestures layered atop that respond to the recording.
-A new piece for pianist Andy Lee that includes field recordings from the Pacific Crest Trail of power lines in the desert, to be debuted in April of 2015.
-Presenting an overview of The Tortoise project at the New Music Gathering in San Francisco in January 2015
-A 30-40 minute performative lecture about The Tortoise. The lecture would incorporate field recordings made during the walk, storytelling, musical performances of excerpts of pieces written for this project by myself and other composers from the project. The sounds, talks and music would all be woven together to give the audience a clear idea as to the sonic vision of the project, of the experience, and of the diversity of music being written on the west coast.
-Music for Chicago-based choreographer Kate Corby using field recordings I made while walking and notes on the corporeal I sent back from the trail.
-A series of intimate food and tea-based events in private residences that feature field recordings and musical gestures incorporated with the foods or tea.
-A headphone listening event incorporating work from The Tortoise made for contemplative walking.
-Presenting concerts around the country of music from myself and collaborators from the album released in conjunction with this project.
-A new work for LA bassist Scott Worthington
-A new work for keyboard-based duet Hocket (Sarah Gibson and Thomas Kotcheff)
-Programs for elementary school children with performances of the work and opportunities for them to write music to accompany field recordings made here in the Pacific Northwest.
-A 40-minute theatrical work in collaboration with tenor Jeremiah Cawley
If you have any questions about any of these projects, making a donation
or simply how to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact
All of the best and none of the worst,
I'm really excited to share this new multifaceted project - part mobile residency on foot, part recording project, and part 8-person site-specific collaboration. The residency will be conducted over 5 months as I walk 2,600 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail
from Mexico to Canada. During this epic walk I will be working on a new piece of music, the music serving as a travelogue of sorts in the end. After the walk, the piece will be recorded and released on Quakebasket Records
- a label specializing in experimental music.
A big part of my practice as a composer is being in the wilderness making field recordings, and I will be making many recordings along the way. Starting in southern California I will mail the field recordings to 6 different composers in California, Oregon and Washington who will sift through them, choose one, then create a brief musical response for a solo instrument to accompany the field recording. These pieces with field recording accompaniment will be posted online as I am walking so people can listen to sounds changing over time as I move north, and hear how different composers along the West Coast relate to these sounds nearby them. These recordings will be gathered at the end of the journey and released dually with the piece that I'll be working on. Collaborating composers (south to north) include Carolyn Chen, Scott Worthington, Andrew Tholl, Chris Kallmyer, Brenna Noonan, Scott Unrein, Hanna Benn, and John Teske.
Undertaking a residency pushes artists in new directions and ways of creating that are outside their normal boundaries. Being in the wilderness specifically for long periods of time can change how we simply listen and compose. Many composers have taken walks as part of their practice, and in a variety of ways. For instance, Elliott Carter took a daily walk down 12th street in Manhattan, and, famously, Bach walked 300 miles to hear Buxtehude play!
In Zen there is a long history of people walking to study with teachers, become hermits, and traverse sacred trails and mountains. In the 1950s Western culture began to interact with these Eastern traditions via beat poets like Gary Snyder - Snyder walked in Japan with an esoteric sect of Buddhists called the Yamabushi. Walking along the sacred Diamond-Womb Trail near Kyoto, Snyder took part in their wilderness rituals - blowing conch shells, chanting and paying homage to deities that inhabit different peaks. These interactions informed his own Zen practice and in turn his understanding of the natural world and man’s place in it - themes central to his work as a writer.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to begin weaving contemporary experimental music into the mythology of this epic trail, pushing American music into new realms not often engaged with in our gilded concert halls, university classrooms, or every-day-coffee-shop city lives. By having a dialogue with the places we live and work we can create a greater sense of place and community, and walking every inch of that place will surely contribute to that for myself, for the composers who live on the West Coast near the trail, and the communities we all live in - this place that Snyder points out many Native American tribes call simply: Turtle Island.
I'm undertaking a funding campaign
to cover some of the costs and pay the different composers who'll be collaborating on this project. The $8,000 minimum goal is the amount we need to start this project, but additional funds would have to be raised along the way. In the event that the $11,000 mark is surpassed, the excess money will be divided up equally amongst all the composers involved in this project and musicians who'll record the work after the walk is over.
If you're interested in making a donation to this exciting project, have a look at the perks and pick what's right for you
! Thank you!
On March 29th, Seattle ensemble The Box is Empty will present new works by Seattle composer Nat Evans, and New York-based composer Leaha Villarreal. Evans’ piece, More Comfort, explores the evolution of our relation to different screens in our lives, mobile devices and televisions as a hearth place, and the nature of our contemporary interactions and language. Evans has collaborated with writer Chelsea Werner-Jatzke and a team of lens-based artists to create a new work for chamber ensemble, field recordings, spoken text and a series of videos. The videos presented are by artist Rodrigo Valenzuela with additional video curation by Interstitial Theatre’s Julia Greenway. Valenzuela's video will also feature live manipulation of the video - a performative version of the use of our hands with the multitude of devices in our every-day lives.
Leaha Maria Villareal, who will be in attendance for the event, will present a series of works for strings including a string quartet originally written for the JACK Quartet, a string septet, and a new string trio. The string quartet is inspired by Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days.” In the play, the characters rely on the ringing of a bell to distinguish waking from sleeping, a practice which becomes distorted and irrelevant as time unfolds. The progression of events is not on the outside, as a spectator of the play. Rather, the quartet is expressing the passage of time as if it were the protagonist: inside, looking out. Seattle artist Erin Elyse Burns will be presenting a new video work along with Villarreal’s music. In addition to composing, Villarreal is also the artistic director of Hotel Elefant, which regularly presents contemporary music across New York City.
Last spring I had a short gap in my schedule so I decided on a whim to surprise some new friends of mine in the wind quintet The City of Tomorrow and write them a piece of music - something I rarely have the chance to do much anymore. Just as I was getting into the beginning stages of imagining the piece, I was suddenly immobilized by an asthma flare-up - one of many many times over the course of my life that I have had to alter day-to-day activities to deal with this disease. Despite the adjustments I am always making to accommodate asthma, there are in the end many positive things that it has forced me to consider. Perhaps most pertinent to this work is while on frequent hikes or walks in the woods or desert, the simple need to sit and rest forces one to look at what's really happening all around you, rather than whisking through - triumphing in miles or peaks bagged. The concept that 'nature' is nothing but 'beautiful' or 'peaceful' fades away. At any given moment there are animals giving birth or being eaten or both, a new tree growing out of a stump, a group of trees conspiring over ten years to choke out a competitor - sending signals to one another in chemical whispers - an epic chase, an accidental death, a group chant at dawn, a long drink of water, a bear taking a shit, a coyote yelping to hear his own voice resounding off a sheer rock cliff, mushrooms pushing through a sea of moss. All this activity is in perfect balance, and sighing and breathing back at us endlessly. Sitting in the woods catching my breath countless times I always come back to that sense of being just another animal, that ultimately the refreshing thing for me about being outside and breathing is that nature does not discriminate - you just are.
And so, Music for Breathing grew out of those observations built up over time while arrested by my lungs. There are moments of guided improvisation, short soloistic moments for each instrument, and also some opportunities for the wind quintet to play conch shells and stones - a ritualistic flourish in dialogue with the esoteric Buddhist sect the Yamabushi - moving along sacred trails and chanting and blowing conch shells. The City of Tomorrow will play Music for Breathing in a few different places in Texas this month - you can have a listen to some excerpts and have a look at event details below.
February 18th - Austin, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing - 7pm, Bethell Hall
February 20th - Seguin, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing
- 7 pm, Ayers Recital Hall, Texas Lutheran University
February 23rd - Huntsville, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing
- 2 pm, Recital Hall, Sam Houston State University
February 24th - Houston, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing
- 7pm, Arts League Houston
February 25th - Nacogdoches, TX - The City of Tomorrow performs Music for Breathing
- 7:30 pm, Cole Concert Hall Stephen F. Austin State University
This month in Florida (where Sawgrass meets the sky), there will be two performances of my work. First, in St. Petersburg an organization called New Music Conflagration will present Two Old Ghosts
- for saxophone and electronics. This piece was originally commissioned by Evan Smith and The Box is Empty, and is written to be open in regards to instrumentation. So, the presenters have decided to try it with two saxophones instead of one. More information about this concert on January 5th in St. Petersburg can be found here
Next, on January 12th in Orlando, percussionist Matt Roberts will debut a piece that he commissioned from me entitled LOG.
is for the concert hall, it is also a site-specific work. The percussionist is instructed to find some sort of log to perform upon, as well as make a field recording of the place the log was collected. Additionally, I made a custom music box that is affixed to the log which acts as a sounding board. The performer then plays on the log, plays the music box on the log, and all of this is with the field recording from the log's place of origin serving as a counterpoint and accompaniment - a dual presentation and exploration of the sonic environment moved into a nearby space. More info about the LOGstravaganza in Orlando can be found here
After a brief break following its most recent incarnation at Interstitial Theatre
, the aurora borealis-inspired Space Weather Listening Booth
returns! We'll be recording entire piece with live performers for KEXP
's weekly show Sonarchy with Neil Welch on saxophone, Greg Campbell on percussion and Tom Baker on electronics, guitar and theremin. We're recording it in January, and it'll be broadcast in mid-March - you can stream it any time on KEXP's website
after the performance. In other news, you can now buy the entire Space Weather Listening Booth
4-channel sound installation - and it comes with two remixes by John Teske and Yours Truly. Head over to our Bandcamp site to check it out
! You can also find our signature 'I CAN HAS SPACE WEATHER?' t-shirts there.
After a successful
exhibition of Space Weather Listening Booth
festival in January, composers Nat Evans and John Teske are reprising their aurora borealis-inspired sound installation at Interstitial Theater
's temporary storefront location in Belltown, Seattle starting on November 22nd.
The electronic portion of the installation will be playing during gallery hours, with a live performance on December 6th at 8pm featuring multiple performers improvising with the electronic track. Audience members are encouraged to bring pillows, sleeping bags, blankets etc for maximum enjoyment of the immersive surround-sound experience.Space Weather Listening Booth
is an immersive acoustic and electronic performance piece based on the aurora borealis, by Seattle composers Nat Evans
and John Teske
. Listeners hear the collision of the different space weather events that cause the aurora borealis, realized through an electronic track in surround sound and in performance live musicians encircle the audience. Premiered as a sound installation with miniature private performances at Seattle's ONN/OF Festival, Space Weather Listening Booth
has since been adapted for live performance and for other installation spaces.
Teske and Evans used geomagnetic data, information about solar wind and other phenomenon, and interpreted this data through a series of sounds that interact and slowly change over time. Additionally, to represent the auroral band that rotates around the poles of the earth, the composers plotted a course for the sound to migrate and turn slowly around the listeners. Space Weather Listening Booth
is a sound experience that allows one to hear and feel the movement of these great forces, and experience time and physical space through a new lens.
"One room mesmerized me: Space Weather Listening Booth." - Jen Graves, The Stranger
"...should be performed again somewhere else as soon as possible." - CityArtsNovember 22nd - 6-9pm - Space Weather Listening Booth opens at Interstitial Theater
- 2231 First Ave, Seattle - Regular open gallery hours 1-7pm Saturday + Sunday December 6th - 8pm - Space Weather Listening Booth
live at Interstitial Theater
- 2231 First Ave, Seattle - $5 suggested donation
Composers Nat Evans and Ross Simonini have created a new score for dance in collaboration with Chicago-based choreographer Kate Corby. The new piece, Digging
, was derived entirely from experiences in intensive meditation sessions over the summer - a direction from Corby that she and her dance troupe also followed. Since Evans and Simonini were already both daily meditators, as an alternate meditative activity they decided to create a chant to recite every day as a way to transform a phrase they found disagreeable. After deciding on the phrase, “kill two birds with one stone,” they broke the words down syllable by syllable to create a chant and began practicing daily over the course of a few weeks. Although Evans and Simonini live in Seattle and New York respectively, they were able to work on this project together remotely by recording all of their various experiments with this invented chant and experiments in ritual as related to sound and the breath. They then took this cache of recordings as source material to create a new electro-acoustic composition that builds and folds over on itself through processing and editing. Digging
will be presented by Kate Corby and Dancers along with music by composers Tim Russell and Ryan Ross Smith at the Chicago Cultural Center October 24-27th. All events are free, and the shows are at 6:30pm, with the exception of Sunday’s show, which begins at noon. More information can be found here
, and an excerpt can be heard below.