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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Platinum Jubilee

Platinum Jubilee

Crater Lake ramps up to celebrate our National Park Service’s 100th anniversary

Story by Lee Juillerat

Photography provided by Britt Music Festival


A "musical expression of Crater Lake" will highlight a summer of activities when Crater Lake National Park celebrates the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.

Oregon's only national park will be the site for July 29 and 30 performances by 40 members of the Britt Classical Festival orchestra, who will combine with a 50-voice choir and Klamath Tribes drummers to debut a specially-commissioned Crater Lake themed musical composition by New York City composer Michael Gordon. Plans call for half-hour performances both days at The Watchman, which overlooks the lake along Rim Drive.

Teddy Abrams, the Britt's musical director and conductor, terms Gordon's composition, which is still under development, a "musical expression of Crater Lake." He hopes the combination of the music, location, performers and audiences will "really, genuinely combine the space with the music—what music looks like if it grows from a natural environment."

Gordon, who spent a week at the park last summer and experienced its winter moods during another week-long January stay, says he hopes to evoke the moods of the lake and its surroundings, including the subtle sounds of nature he heard and experienced during his winter visit.

"For me, the thing about winter I love is it's so quiet. That's the thing I noticed, this roaring silence," says Gordon, who was joined by his wife Julia Wolfe on snowshoe hikes along the lake's snow-cloaked rim. "Everything is so amplified because it's so quiet. You do notice the difference. The wind blows right by your ear—it's near, it's far away. (You hear) the sound of the snow as it falls, as it hits the ground."

Abrams terms the project—which was commissioned by the Britt Music Festival and is awaiting funding from the National Endowment for the Arts—as, "probably the biggest venture the Britt has even taken." He says several Southern Oregon donors have already made generous pledges. The project grew from suggestions by the Endowment to work collaboratively with other groups, which Abrams says led Britt managers to ponder, "What can we do that's really special? The world was wide open to us. 

What's really special, they decided, is Crater Lake.

Gordon, who is tasked with creating the musical piece, says the music won't genuinely be finalized until rehearsals with musicians, the choir and drummers the week before the performances. While he focuses on the music, Abrams and Crater Lake Superintendent Craig Ackerman are dealing with logistics. Abrams hopes two or more performances can be offered both days, and envisions having musicians, the choir and drummers move in small groups to various lake overlooks. Ackerman notes the planning is complicated because of ongoing Rim Drive construction work and because the performances are scheduled during the park's highest visitation months. "We're very excited about the Britt performance," Ackerman says, but he also emphases the park has no special funding for the project.

Abrams is optimistic that the funding, like the logistics, will fall into place. He believes the music and performance site will focus national attention to the park and to Southern Oregon while also providing cultural and economic benefits. To reach wider audiences, the park performances will be filmed. The Crater Lake composition will also be featured during the Britt Classical series closing program on August 20 at the Britt Gardens in Jacksonville.

"This is very good for the Southern Oregon region. Doing this is an investment in Britt, in encouraging people visiting the region," insists Abrams, who is considering walking from Jacksonville to the lake carrying and playing instruments to rally interest.

For now, Gordon is focused on his composition. "It will be a spectacle," he says, hinting the musical influences will include the lake's turbulent geological history, the influence of native cultures, and the lake's varying seasonal moods. “I've been fortunate to have had some fantastic experiences as a composer, but never one like this. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm treating it that way."

While the Britt performances will highlight Crater Lake's Centennial celebration, Ackerman and lead interpretive ranger Marsha McCabe say other activities are being planned. Events include an artists-in-residency program in April, an Oregon Heritage Conference presentation, a celebration of the park's 114th birthday and a Facebook photo contest in May.

Although no events are planned in June, July will see a variety of programs. Along with the Britt performance, an Art on the Rim art show featuring the park's artists-in-residence is planned July 9 and 10 with an expanded U.S. Naturalization Ceremony at a to-be announced date, and a Beetle bio-blitz citizen science event on July 23. Night sky programs will be offered several times in July and August, along with special centennial programs both at and outside the park. Other August events include the Crater Lake Rim Runs August 13, a Centennial Film Festival, and a Southern Oregon Historical Society presentation.

September events include a fall artists-in-residence program, and Ride the Rim vehicle days on September 17 and 24. A Turtle Bay exhibit featuring a Centennial Celebration of Klamath Network Parks (Crater Lake, Lassen and Redwoods National Parks, Lava Beds National Monument, Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area) is planned in October.

In addition, park managers will place an increased focus on the "Every Kid in a Park" program for fourth grade students and their families.

As Ackerman says, "We're expecting a busy year and, with the special centennial activities and the Britt programs, a year that provides even more reasons to visit Crater Lake."


Crater Lake National Park


Britt Music & Arts Festival

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