In the 50 years that Kathleen has been writing about nature, roughly 60 percent of all individual mammals have been erased from the face of the Earth—six of every 10. The total population of North American birds, the red-winged blackbirds and robins, has been cut by a third. Half of grassland birds have been lost. Half of butterflies and moths. We are "laying waste the sky," as Thoreau warned.
While individual numbers decrease, species are being lost too. As many as one out of five species of organisms may be on the verge of extinction now, and twice that number could be lost by the end of the century. Each time a creature dies, a song dies. Every time a species goes extinct, its songs die forever.
In this series, Spring Creek Project celebrates wild songs. We are inspired by Rachel Carson's quote: "The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders ... of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction."
Music to Save Earth's Songs includes two keynote events as well as 20 tiny concert videos called Animal Interludes. Each video, just a few minutes long, is an original composition of words and music in honor of a threatened or beloved animal. For example, Robin Kimmerer reads a passage about seabirds, with a string duet. Lauret Savoy reads about sage grouse, accompanied by Mark Weaver playing tuba. Aimee Nezhukumatathil reads from an essay about meadowlarks, with an original flute composition by Jane Rigler.
The series was co-sponsored and co-released by the Center for Humans and Nature, Counterpoint Press, Greenbelt Land Trust, McKenzie River Trust, Orion Magazine, and The Safina Center, all of which you can learn more about in the "About Our Co-Sponsors" section below.
Thank you for tuning in to these wild songs with us. Here, Spring Creek Project Program Manager Carly Lettero offers an introduction to the series, accompanied by pianist Rachelle McCabe.
The Extinction Variations world film premiere
Filmed on the concert stage and in the Pacific Northwest's landscapes of coastal tidepools, volcanic fields, and clear-cut mountainsides, The Extinction Variations is a moving call to action on climate disruption and mass extinction. In a unique creative collaboration, classical pianist Rachelle McCabe's performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Variations on a Theme of Corelli" weaves through essayist Kathleen Dean Moore's words, carrying them from despair to bewilderment to hope and moral resolve. The screening was followed by a Q&A with Kathleen Dean Moore, Rachelle McCabe, and filmmaker Nara Garber. (This live event was held January 23, 2021.)
Kathleen Dean Moore launches her book Earth's Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World, the inspiration behind the whole series. The event includes readings, guest appearances, music, and a Q&A with the author. This event was co-hosted by our series partners as well as Grass Roots Books & Music, which has copies of Earth's Wild Music available. (This live event was held February 20, 2021.)
During the series, we shared two Animal Interlude videos per week for 10 weeks starting on January 25, 2021. The full collection is linked below and is also available on Spring Creek Project's YouTube channel.
Spadefoot toad: Read by Kathleen Dean Moore with music by Jane Rigler (flute and electronics)
About the Readers and Musicians
Michael Branch is a writer, humorist, and environmentalist whose work includes nine published books, one of which is the Pulitzer Prize-nominated John Muir's Last Journey: South to the Amazon and East to Africa. He has published more than 250 essays, articles, and reviews, and has given more than 400 invited lectures, readings, and workshops. He is Professor of Literature and Environment and University Foundation Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is co-founder and past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE). He is the recipient of the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Silver Pen Award, the Western Literature Association Frederick Manfred Award for Creative Writing, and the Willa Pilla Award for Humor Writing, among many other awards.
Improvisational fiddler Laura Brophy is known for her fiery playing. She first picked up a fiddle at the age of 11 and hasn't put it down since. Laura's distinctive technique combines lyrical melodies and rhythmic innovation to give each tune a new twist. Her fiddling first enlivened street jams in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After coming to Oregon in 1986 she began playing for dancers and developed the exciting style that fills the house and raises the roof at festivals and dance events throughout the region.
Craig Childs has published more than a dozen books of adventure, wilderness, and science, including Virga & Bone: Essays from Dry Places, Atlas of a Lost World: Travels in Ice Age America, and The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild. He has won the Orion Book Award, the Galen Rowell Art of Adventure Award, the Spirit of the West Award, and has twice won the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award.
Glitter Vomit is the solo project of Jazmyn Crosby and has had various collaborators throughout its existence. Mesmerized by communication and its tools, Glitter Vomit sounds like static-like long slow thoughts, vulnerable sparse and layered guitar, cell phone, radio, and vocals in a labyrinth of loops and collected audio fragments. Originating from New Mexico, Glitter Vomit is currently based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
mobdividual, a word mash-up of "mob" and "individual" is a single person, Brian Elyo, attempting to be a noise orchestra. Brian has released seven short albums, a myriad of tapes, and is currently working on a sound/nature film series. Each album expresses a variety of concepts through its artwork, quotations, and song titles. Liner notes are provided to discuss the recording process, equipment, as well as the ideas quoted. Sonically all the songs are seamless, instrumental, and very meditative. mobdividual performs regularly at DIY venues, art exhibits, and festivals, and uses creative events for site-specific performance sound pieces and collaborations.
Tom Foe is an interdisciplinary artist from Colorado and New Mexico, currently living in Oregon. He is primarily a musician, collage/mixed-media artist, and video creator with an affinity for experimentation and strange beauty. Major themes of his work revolve around the relationships of senses of place, states of mind, and ideas of home. His latest album of songwriting, called Notes on Creeks & Mines, was released in January 2021 and can be found on all streaming platforms.
Charles Goodrich, a Senior Fellow for the Spring Creek Project, is the author of three books of poetry, A Scripture of Crows; Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden; and Insects of South Corvallis, and a collection of essays, The Practice of Home, and has co-edited two anthologies, Forest Under Story: Creative Inquiry in an Old-Growth Forest and In the Blast Zone: Catastrophe and Renewal on Mount St. Helens.
Kim Heacox has authored 15 books, five for National Geographic. His memoir, The Only Kayak, and his novel, Jimmy Bluefeather, both won the National Outdoor Book Award. He writes opinion-editorials for The Guardian in celebration and defense of the natural world, and lives with his wife, Melanie, in a small town in coastal Alaska where they provide leadership programming for Tidelines Institute.
Putu Tangkas Adi Hiranmayena is an Indonesian artist and scholar. Putu's interests are rooted in gamelan, improvisation, and metal music, while dealing primarily with high adrenaline activity, embodiment, and cosmology theories. His musical works directly highlight exigency of performance in peak physical states, which provoke praxis of micro-temporality. Putu has performed with gamelan and improvisation ensembles around the United States and Indonesia.
Jane Hirshfield's most recent, ninth poetry collection is Ledger (Knopf, 2020). The founder of #PoetsForScience, Hirshfield is also the author of two now-classic books of essays, Nine Gates and Ten Windows. A finalist for the NBCC, long-listed for the National Book Award, and winner of the Poetry Center and California Book Awards, Hirshfield's other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, and 10 selections for The Best American Poetry. A former chancellor of The Academy of American Poets, she was inducted in 2019 into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Ishmael Hope is an Inupiaq and Tlingit poet, storyteller, actor, and playwright based in Juneau, Alaska. Notable recent projects include his first poetry collection, Courtesans of Flounder Hill; serving as the lead writer for Kisima Ingitchuna: Never Alone, produced by the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and E-Line Media; and co-directing, with Scott Burton, a documentary on Tlingit art produced by KTOO Public Media.
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a mother, writer, botanist, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. She is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi nation. She is the author of Gathering Moss and Braiding Sweetgrass. Robin is a wonderstruck student of the natural world and listens to plants, birds, toads, and bees on an old farm in upstate New York.
Hank Lentfer is a sound recordist, gardener, and writer. Most mornings he's out listening to his wild neighbors and expanding his catalogue of natural sounds. Hank lives with his wife and daughter on the banks of a small stream on the edge of a tiny town in the expansive landscape of Southeast Alaska.
Jan-Michael Looking Wolf is an enrolled Kalapuya member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde who resides within his Indigenous homelands in Oregon and an honored Army Veteran. He is a world-renowned Native American flute player that has dedicated his life to sharing and teaching the Native American style flute. Traveling a broad range of musical styles with 25 full-length albums, his recordings have garnered dozens of awards and a top-10 ranking in the global radio charts.
Rachelle McCabe is the Artistic Director of Corvallis-OSU Piano International. She enjoys an international career as a concert pianist and artist teacher and has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States, and in China, Canada, Southeast Asia, France, and England. A dedicated teacher and Professor of Music at Oregon State University, Rachelle has served as OSU's Director of Piano Studies. She directs numerous educational programs, including master classes with world-renowned pianists, the OSU Chamber Music Workshop, and the OSU Summer Piano Institute.
Jonathan Moore is a professor of Aquatic Ecology & Conservation and the Liber Ero Chair of Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University. The focus of his research is ecology and conservation of aquatic systems, and his general interests include biodiversity, watersheds, species interactions, biogeochemistry, subsidies, ecosystem engineers, disturbance, and global change. He does much of his work in the freshwaters that Pacific salmon call home and works with the Salmon Watersheds Lab.
Kathleen Dean Moore served as Distinguished Professor of Environmental Philosophy at Oregon State University, where she wrote books about our cultural and moral relations to the wet, wild world and to one another. These include the award-winning Riverwalking, Holdfast, and Wild Comfort. But her increasing concern about the climate and extinction crises led her to leave the university, so she could write and speak full-time about the moral urgency of action. Since then, she has spoken out across the country, publishing Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril and Great Tide Rising: Toward Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change.
Erika Nagamoto has studied violin with Janet Throop, Jessica Lambert, and Sibbi Bernhardsson at Oberlin Conservatory and is currently studying with Anthea Kreston. She is in her second year at Oregon State University in the New Media Communications program. Erika is a Corvallis Youth Symphony alumnus and has been fortunate to participate in multiple Bach festivals, Chintimini concerts, OSU chamber music workshops, and district and state competitions. In addition to classical violin, she enjoys playing cello, Celtic fiddle, and New Mexican country.
Michael Paul Nelson is an environmental scholar, writer, teacher, speaker, consultant, and professor of environmental ethics and philosophy. He currently holds the Ruth H. Spaniol Endowed Chair of Renewable Resources, and serves as the Lead-Principal Investigator for the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest Long-Term Ecological Research Program at Oregon State University. Michael's research and teaching focus is environmental ethics and philosophy. He is the author or editor of four books in and around the area of environmental ethics, including the award-winning book Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril (2010) with Kathleen Dean Moore.
Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the New York Times best-selling author of World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, finalist for the Kirkus Prize in non-fiction, and recently named Book of the Year by Barnes and Noble. She is also the author of four books of poetry, and awards for her writing include a fellowship from the Mississippi Arts Council, Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for poetry, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Her writing has appeared in NYTimes Magazine, ESPN Magazine, and twice in Best American Poetry. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi's MFA program.
Elena Passarello is a Whiting Award-winning essayist and performer. Her latest book, Animals Strike Curious Poses, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and winner of the Oregon Book Award, and was translated into several languages. Her recent essays have appeared in National Geographic, Audubon, and Best American Science and Nature Writing. In 2019, Outside magazine named her one of the "25 Most Essential Women Authors Writing About the Wild." Elena teaches in the MFA programs at Oregon State University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, and you can hear her every week on the nationally syndicated radio program LiveWire.
Chris Reyman is a jazz and improvising pianist and composer. His Koan Ensemble, a music and dance improvisation ensemble released KOAN (Fortuna Music) in 2019, which features renowned musicians Herb Robertson (trumpet) and Lou Grassi (drums). In 2018, he created the Wave Trio with drummer/percussionist Jonathan Rodriguez to present original music that blends chamber music and jazz/commercial styles. They have performed throughout the U.S. southwest, central Mexico, and Mexico City with Grammy Award winning saxophonist and flautist Adrián Terrazas-González. In 2019, the Wave Trio was awarded funding through the El Paso Museum and Cultural Affairs Department. Reyman is the co-founder and Assistant Director of the Institute for Improvisation and Social Action, an organization that empowers communities on the U.S.-Mexico border through improvisation and performance. He is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Jane Rigler, flutist/composer/improviser/educator and Deep Listening® facilitator enjoys exploring the complexities of language (i.e., rational, irrational, conscious, subconscious), through the flute sounds, voice, gesture, and movement. She is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Colorado (UCCS) and is usually eager to travel the world. She thrives at artist residencies like Civitella Ranieri, Montalvo, Ucross, Hambidge, and Harvestworks that promote her collaborative nature. In 2009-10 she received the US-Japan Friendship Creative Artist Fellowship, and she spent most of 2020 in Ireland on a Fulbright Award where she studied Irish (Gaeilge), Sean-nós, and the ancient Ogham scripts for a series of new compositions based on the stones, ancient trees, and landscapes.
Jonathan Rodriguez is an emerging percussionist and composer from the borderlands of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico. Currently he is working on his Doctorate in Percussion Performance at the University of Washington in Seattle. His recent work focuses on community music making in border communities using non-traditional methods of notation.
claire rousay is a person who performs and records. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. Her performances and recordings explore human relationships and self perception. rousay's work has been performed at locations such as Casa del Popolo, Constellation Chicago, Experimental Sound Studio, Iklectik Art Lab (London), Issue Project Room, and the Tobin Center for Performing Arts (San Antonio).
Lauret Savoy is a woman of African American, Euro-American, and Indigenous ancestry whose writing explores how this nation's still-unfolding history has marked the land and society. Her book Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape won the American Book Award and ASLE Creative Writing Award; it was also a finalist for PEN American and other honors. Her books include The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity and the Natural World and Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology. Lauret is the David B. Truman Professor of Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow.
Tuba player Mark Weaver has performed, toured, and recorded in ensembles ranging from composed music to improvised music, and collaborations with theater, film, and poetry. He has produced numerous performances in New Mexico for local and internationally touring artists, including his creative music series "The Roost," which presented 57 shows in seven annual seasons from 2009-2016.
Jason Graham created his stage name, MOsley WOtta (or "MOWO"), from the idea that every human is made mostly of water. His interactive performance, writing, poetry, music, and movement blend to create a unique hybrid art form. After participating in local slam poetry events in his home of Bend, Oregon, he went on to become a champion Oregon slam poet. He served as an art ambassador with Bend-based nonprofit Rise Up International and, in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, traveled to Australia, Fiji, and the United Arab Emirates to help conduct workshops in museums, schools, and communities that encouraged communication through writing, spoken word, arts, and performance.
Titus Young is in his senior year studying cello performance with professor Steven Pologe at the University of Oregon. Titus is an avid fan of all kinds of music, with chamber music claiming a very special place in his heart. Titus is an active musician in his community and has accrued hundreds of hours of community service playing for various concerts and events. He has a special ministry playing for elderly folks in retirement centers and assisted living facilities.
About Our Co-Sponsors
Thank you to the following organizations for co-sponsoring and co-releasing this series with us. These organizations are doing inspiring work to make the world a better, more habitable place for humans and non-humans alike.
The Center for Humans and Nature partners with some of the brightest minds to explore human responsibilities to each other and the more-than-human world. They bring together philosophers, ecologists, artists, political scientists, anthropologists, poets, and economists, among others, to think creatively about a resilient future for the whole community of life.
Counterpoint Press is author-driven, devoting energy to the fresh, cutting-edge, and literary voices of our authors. The publish works across many genres, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and anthologies, all of which collectively focus on current affairs and politics, counterculture, music, history, memoir, literary biography, religion, and philosophy. In 2016, Counterpoint merged with Catapult, an independent press and publisher of an award-winning online magazine.
Greenbelt Land Trust is a nonprofit land trust focused on protecting ecologically, agriculturally, and historically significant lands in the mid-Willamette Valley. They work strategically to secure significant natural areas in accordance with a careful plan. They strive for connectivity, linking protected natural areas with parks and public spaces to provide wildlife corridors, protect valuable natural resources, and expand opportunities for low-impact recreation and renewal.
McKenzie River Trust protects natural lands, connects community members to conservation, and restores critical habitat across eight watersheds in western Oregon. Their members, volunteers, landowner partners, and community networks work together to leave a lasting impact on the more than 7,000 acres currently in their care.
Orion invites readers into a community of caring for the planet. Through writing, photography, and art that explores the connection between nature and culture, Orion inspires new thinking about how humanity might live on Earth justly, sustainably, and joyously.
The Safina Center advances the case for Life on Earth by fusing scientific understanding, emotional connection, and a moral call to action. They create an original blend of science, art, and literature in the form of award-winning books and articles, scientific research, photography, films, sound-art, and spoken words, bearing first-hand witness as they speak up, speak out, and teach. Their work is designed to inspire and engage others to devote their time and energies to conservation of wild things and wild places, and their creative works have proven their power to change people’s lives and their view of the world.