Photo by Justin Briggs

June 8, 2016
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Britt Orchestra to perform Michael Gordon world premiere commission at Crater Lake National Park July 29 and 30, 2016
Six free performances celebrate National Park Service centennial

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, OR (UPDATED June 8, 2016) — On July 29-30, members of the Britt Orchestra and Music Director Teddy Abrams will celebrate the unique majesty of Oregon’s Crater Lake with six performances at the national park of a world premiere by New York-based composer Michael Gordon commissioned by Britt Music & Arts Festival and inspired by Crater Lake. Abrams will lead approximately 40 Britt Orchestra musicians in the performances, with the dramatic panorama of the lake as the setting. Joining the Britt Orchestra musicians are 15 members of Steiger Butte Drum, a drum troupe composed of members of the local Klamath Tribes; 30 brass and percussion musicians from Southern Oregon University; and a 50-member chorus. The performances are free, and are being presented as part of the centennial celebration of the U.S. National Park Service.

Gordon has spent time during the last year at Crater Lake, to draw on the living landscape and the ancient lake for inspiration for his composition. “Natural History is designed to be an experiential, spatial work,” Gordon said. “The idea is to draw out the natural sounds in and around Crater Lake and connect the natural sonic environment to the orchestra.” Experiencing the park with Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman, Park Historian Stephen Mark, and spending a week in a ranger’s house in winter have all informed Gordon’s work. He also spent an afternoon working with Steiger Butte Drum, an extended family from the Klamath Tribes that sings and collectively plays a large drum, which they encircle. The drum group members are the soloists of Natural History.

The world premiere performance takes place Friday, July 29 at 10 am at Watchman Overlook Corral, overlooking the lake. This performance is by invitation only and to those walking and bicycling to the site. The other two July 29 performances are at 2 pm and 5 pm at Picnic Hill, near the Rim Village. Three additional performances take place at Picnic Hill on Saturday, July 30 at 11 am, 2 pm and 5 pm. There will also be several small ensembles scattered around the park performing throughout the day on July 29 and 30, in locations to be determined. Natural History will also be performed Saturday, August 20 at the Britt Pavilion in Jacksonville, Oregon, in the closing concert of the 2016 Britt Orchestra season. More information is available at

The genesis for this project comes from a funding opportunity from the National Endowment for the Arts project Imagine Your Parks, which celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service. The National Park Service was founded in August 1916 to protect America’s most iconic lands and wildlife.

“Britt is thrilled to be a part of the National Park Service Centennial celebration of the achievements over the past 100 years, but it is actually about the future,” says Britt CEO and President Donna Briggs. “Our collaboration with Crater Lake National Park is really about embracing a second century of stewardship for Crater Lake, and for communities across southern Oregon, through the magnificence of nature and art.”

“For this collaboration, we want to create a work of musical art that truly binds the natural environment and topography of Crater Lake with a musical landscape and experience,” said Britt Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams. “It’s important to us that this work feel deeply connected to the environment, instead of simply presenting music in a beautiful place.”

“We have been searching for innovative and unique opportunities with which to showcase Crater Lake for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service,” says Craig W. Ackerman, Superintendent of Crater Lake National Park (CLNP). “The Britt performances do all that and more. A place-based musical composition will connect the spectacular scenery and resources of the lake with a cultural and artistic heritage that stretches beyond the founding of the park. These performances will attract national recognition for the park, the Rogue Valley and all of southern Oregon.”

Britt is partnering with Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics, to engage the veterans for whom they provide services, at this performance. Britt is also partnering with art students from the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University to involve students in the celebration on the performance days.

For more information, please visit

Inspired by its intimate and scenic hillside venue, Britt Music & Arts Festival provides diverse live performances, an incomparable classical festival and dynamic education programs that create a sense of discovery and community. Since its grassroots beginnings in 1963, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber music festival to a summer-long series of concerts in a variety of genres, including a three-week Classical Festival, and year-round education and engagement programs. For more information, visit

New York City-based Michael Gordon merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power in his music, embodying, in the words of The New Yorker's Alex Ross, "the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz and the intransigence of classical modernism." Over the past 25 years, Gordon has produced a strikingly diverse body of work, ranging from large-scale pieces for high-energy ensembles and major orchestral commissions to works conceived specifically for the recording studio. Transcending categorization, this music represents the collision of mysterious introspection and brutal directness. This spring alone, Michael Gordon has had three world premieres: The Unchanging Sea, a piano concerto for Tomoko Mukayaima and the Seattle Symphony, with video by Bill Morrison; Material, for experimental ensemble Yarn/Wire, playing one piano, and Observations on Air, a bassoon concerto for Peter Whelan and the Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment. The Ensemble Modern, the Dublin Guitar Quartet, and the New World Symphony, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, all presented world premieres of Gordon’s pieces in 2014-15. Other 2014-15 highlights: the Canadian premiere of Rushes (seven bassoons), the French premiere of Cold by the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the U.S. premieres of both Dry and Hyper at Miller Theater.


Friday, July 29 at 10 am, Watchman Overlook Corral, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon**
Friday, July 29 at 2 pm and 5 pm AND Saturday, July 30 at 11 am, 2 pm and 5 pm at Picnic Hill, near Crater Lake Rim Village, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

WORLD PREMIERE OF Natural History (Britt Music & Arts Festival commission), with Britt Orchestra performing live at Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Teddy Abrams, conductor
Members of Steiger Butte Drum, from Klamath Tribes
Brass and percussion musicians from Southern Oregon University
50-member chorus
Britt Orchestra


MICHAEL GORDON: Natural History (WORLD PREMIERE, Britt Festival commission) (approx. 30 minutes)


**The July 29 10 am performance is by invitation only. The July 29 2 pm and 5 pm concerts, and the July 30 11 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm concerts are open to all park visitors. All the concerts are free with park admission; no tickets required. These performances are held outdoors. Seating and accommodations are limited. Limited bus transport into the park for these performances is available. Locations and schedules are subject to change, according to weather and park conditions. More information at