About Britt
Britt Orchestra to celebrate centennial of Crater Lake National Park with performances in the Park in 2016

Download photos of Crater Lake or Michael Gordon

August 17, 2015 

MEDFORD, OR —In July 2016, members of the Britt Orchestra and Music Director Teddy Abrams will celebrate the unique majesty of Crater Lake with performances at the national park. Abrams will lead approximately 40 Britt Orchestra musicians in the performances, with the dramatic panorama of the entire lake as the backdrop. The musicians will perform a world premiere composition by New York-based composer Michael Gordon, commissioned by Britt and inspired by Crater Lake.

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 Parks. The National Park Service was founded in August 1916 to protect America’s most iconic lands and wildlife. Britt has submitted a $100,000 request to the NEA, which will require matching funds, dollar for dollar.

The Neuman Hotel Group has generously stepped forward with a $20,000 pledge as Britt’s first major sponsor for this project, in the hope others will follow.

Britt is partnering closely with Crater Lake park staff to make the event a success. “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 proposal does 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 along the caldera will attract national recognition for the park, the Rogue Valley and all of southern Oregon.”

“Britt is thrilled to be a part of the National Parks 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 CLNP 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".

Composer Michael Gordon will serve as artist-in-residence several times throughout the year at Crater Lake, to draw on the park for inspiration for his composition. He says, “I am honored to create a new work inspired by Crater Lake National Park for Teddy Abrams and the Britt Music and Arts Festival… The project at Crater Lake (working title) is designed to be an experiential spacial work. The idea is to draw out the natural sounds in and around Crater Lake and connect the natural sonic environment to the orchestra.” 

The performances will take place over two days in the last weekend of July 2016, and will be free and open to all park-goers. In addition, Britt is partnering with Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics, to engage the veterans they provide services for, 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.

To keep posted on more information as this project develops, the public can visit brittfest.org and sign up for email updates.

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. 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.

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 brittfest.org.