For the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this April, composer Steve Heitzeg celebrated by writing Ecology Symphony, an “ecoscore” honoring threatened and endangered animal species, with each movement dedicated to a different species such as the leatherback turtle, Javan rhinoceros, and mountain gorilla. The non-standard score by the Minnesota-based composer is as much a philosophical statement and piece of art as it is a work of music, with a giant panda “black on white” chord that looks like a pawprint and the Pacific walrus depicted with two tusks that go from pianissimo at the narrow end to fortissimo at the wide end. Heitzeg doesn’t rule out an orchestral performance for Ecology Symphony—it could be performed by a solo percussionist or a symphony orchestra. He deliberately kept the instrumentation open, he says, to keep the piece “wild, like the animals I am honoring the piece.” Several of Heitzeg’s other orchestral compositions have been performed by American orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Naples (FL) Philharmonic Orchestra, Des Moines Symphony Orchestra, Omaha Symphony Orchestra, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Two of Heitzeg’s previous scores—Peace March for Paul and Sheila Wellstone (composed in the shape of a peace sign) and American Symphony (Unfinished)—are in the permanent collection of the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis.
Posted April 30, 2010