Original Compositions Celebrate National Parks

Jun 29, 2016

A Michigan ensemble is hitting the road with new music to celebrate the anniversary of the National Park System. Two original compositions offer listeners a different take on parks like the Badlands and Wind Cave.

Photo courtesy Grand Valley State University

This weekend a group of musicians premiere two new pieces of music written about two South Dakota National parks.  The Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble performs original compositions at Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park. The ensemble is playing music written in celebration of the National Park System’s 100th birthday.

Kevin Flynn is a cellist for the ensemble. He says the original music spans many aspects of the parks, such as one Badlands-inspired piece featuring erosion and the other including elements of birds present at sunrise.

“It’s great that something like the National Endowment of the Arts gave us the opportunity to take that and take our sort of style, take our message and bring that across these national parks," says Flynn.

Flynn says he has seen photographers capture the national parks from different lenses and angles, but he says the music the ensemble plays showcases each park from a new perspective compared to visual art.

“Photographers bring their specialization to the park centennial, and I think that we do the same. We just come through a musical lens, we bring a musical language to the table, and I think some people might say it’s farfetched, but I think it translates very well, and I hope that concert-goers will hear that," says Flynn.

Flynn says the group is also performing at other National parks in the region.   He says the tour is unique in its scale, covering over 4 thousand miles across the Midwest. He adds that the free concerts begin at the Badlands’ Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater on Friday and Saturday at 8pm and at Wind Cave’s Elk Mountain Campground on Sunday at 7pm.