Video Premiere: American Wild Ensemble Performs “Where the Sun of Freedom Shines” by Ingrid Stölzel

Led by co-directors Emlyn Johnson and Daniel Ketter, American Wild Ensemble is on a mission to bring site-inspired music to regional communities and natural habitats. Offering audiences a new way of engaging with contemporary music and their surrounding environments, their projects traverse national parks, celebrate wildlife, and tell local stories.

Emlyn and Daniel relocated to Missouri in 2018. To mark the bicentennial of their new home’s statehood, they commissioned six new works by composers who had a significant connection to the state: Stefan Freund, Barbara Harbach, Marcus Lewis, Michael Murray, Christopher Stark, and Ingrid Stölzel. The “Missouri Music at 200” program was performed on an outdoor tour throughout the state in August 2021, and American Wild Ensemble collaborated with Christopher Andrews Studios to create video recordings of all of the pieces.

Ingrid Stölzel--Photo by Cristian Fatu

Ingrid Stölzel–Photo by Cristian Fatu

Here’s what Ingrid had to say about Where the Sun of Freedom Shines:

When I first moved to Missouri in 1991, I came to learn how many German areas there were in the state. Missourians often made a point of telling me I should go visit Hermann, Missouri, which they called the Little Germany of Missouri. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the immigration history and the reasons why so many Germans in the 19th century left their homeland to come to settle along the Missouri River. This commission was my opportunity to take a deep dive into this fascinating history that inspired the emotional landscape of the composition. 

The title for my piece “Where the Sun of Freedom Shines” is an English translation from a line of an Auswanderungslied (Song of Emigration) by Friedrich Münch, which specifically encouraged Germans in the 1830s to relocate to Missouri. During my research, I found many other German emigration songs from the 19th century and I enjoyed incorporating short melodic fragments into my composition. It is my hope that this composition serves as a reminder of the important and invaluable contributions immigrants from all nations have made and continue to make to the cultural life of Missouri and the United States.

You can learn more about American Wild Ensemble’s Missouri Music at 200 project on their website.

About American Wild Ensemble

The Music in the American Wild initiative began with a commissioning project and performance tour in honor of the 2016 National Park Service centennial. Since those initial performances from caves to mountaintops, the collective American Wild Ensemble has continued to celebrate American people, places, and stories by commissioning new works and performing them in site-inspired locations. Since 2015 the ensemble has commissioned over 30 new works, with support from organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, Chamber Music America, and Mid-America Arts Alliance. Collaborative projects have taken the group from the lava fields of Hawaii’s Big Island, to Washington’s Hoh Rainforest, to the site of the first suffragette convention in New York’s Seneca Falls. The ensemble emphasizes audience engagement through the project development and performance process, aiming to offer a cohesive experience that connects listeners to the spaces around them through music designed with those spaces in mind.

About Ingrid Stölzel

Composer Ingrid Stölzel has been described as having “a gift for melody” (San Francisco Classical Voice) and “evoking a sense of longing” that creates “a reflective and serene soundscape that makes you want to curl up on your windowsill to re-listen on a rainy day” (I Care If You Listen). Stölzel’s compositions have been commissioned and performed worldwide, including at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, Kennedy Center, Seoul Arts Center, Thailand International Composition Festival, Festival Osmose (Belgium), Vox Feminae Festival (Israel), Dot the Line Festival (South Korea), Beijing Modern Music Festival (China), and Festival of New American Music (USA. Her music has been recognized in numerous competitions, among them the Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composer’s Award, Red Note Composition Competition, and the Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers. Recordings can be found on various commercial releases including her portrait album “The Gorgeous Nothings.” Stölzel teaches composition at University of Kansas.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

A gift to ACF helps support the work of ICIYL. For more on ACF, visit the “At ACF” section or