Video Premiere: American Wild Ensemble Performs Covers and Uncovers (Ko)

Today’s video premiere features American Wild Ensemble performing Tonia Ko‘s Covers and Uncovers from their two-disc album Music in the American Wild.

Music in the American Wild presents commissioned works by eleven composers: Aaron Travers, Chris Chandler, Tonia Ko, Daniel Pesca, Kevin Ernste, Aristea Mellos, David Clay Mettens, Robert Morris, Adam Roberts, Jeff Myers, and Ted Goldman. The recorded works were inspired by and commissioned for the 2016 National Park Service centennial and were first performed on tour of national parks across the country.

Six videos by Jorge Arzac accompany the first disc, capturing the spirit of that tour, with images from national parks and performances in Washington, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee.

Here’s what Tonia Ko had to say about Covers and Uncovers:

In this piece, I was interested in exploring the idea of expansive landscapes that seem to go on forever. I took direct inspiration from two places that I’ve lived, Hawaii and Kansas. The prairies in Kansas are so different than the ocean, but there is a beauty about how they roll on into the horizon… It was important for me for this specific project that the piece had space for the natural sounds around the performers, which factored into the gestures I was putting into the piece. I settled on using the desk bells early on, and that basically informed what I wrote for the instruments as well. It’s funny that they are such artificial and man made objects—the desk bells and this metal rod—but somehow in this context they played a roll in evoking more ambient, natural sounds.

The album is currently available on ArtistShare, and streaming audio and video will be released on September 30.

About American Wild Ensemble

The American Wild Ensemble celebrates the people, places, and ideas that shape American culture through the commission and performance of new music. The ensemble began their Music in the American Wild initiative in 2016 with the premiere of a new opus of works for strings, winds, and percussion inspired by the National Park Service centennial, which they performed in seven national parks across the country.

The Music in the American Wild initiative aims to connect new listeners with new music through site-specific programming and audience engagement. With support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and New Music USA, the American Wild Ensemble continues to create and perform music that celebrates shared spaces and shared values, and encourages listeners to explore and experience their surroundings in new ways. Recent projects have included a collaboration with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and a weeklong performance and engagement residency at North Cascades National Park.

About Tonia Ko

Tonia Ko’s music is guided by explorations into texture, physical movement, and the relationship between melody and memory. She has collaborated with leading soloists and ensembles across a variety of media—from acoustic concert pieces to site-specific sound installations. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, her work has also been recognized by the Fromm Music Foundation, Chamber Music America, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, Ko holds a DMA from Cornell University and is currently the Postdoctoral Researcher at the Center for Contemporary Composition at the University of Chicago.