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Tue, Mar 07


Ann Arbor

Alexis Lamb Presents at U-Michigan President Ono Inauguration Poster Session

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Alexis Lamb Presents at U-Michigan President Ono Inauguration Poster Session
Alexis Lamb Presents at U-Michigan President Ono Inauguration Poster Session

Time & Location

Mar 07, 2023, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST

Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

About the Event

Over the last decade, I have composed and performed many works that thematically engage with nature or attempt to re-orchestrate natural sounds into music, including recreating bird calls, rocks skipping over ice, and walking on crunchy ground after a forest fire. In addition to my composition and performance experiences, my scholarship has also engaged with composers such as John Cage, R. Murray Schaefer, and Pauline Oliveros, who wrote frequently on soundscapes (both natural and human-made) and our relation to them through music. All of this work, as well as additional field research conducted in 2022, has contributed to my dissertation, "Refugia," and the planning of the Refugia Festival, which is a festival advocating for environmental conservation and preservation through the sense of sound.

The question at the heart of my dissertation is how human music can interact with natural soundscapes; specifically how our music can coexist with, or be in service to, our natural surroundings without being threatening. Of course, music is performed in outdoor spaces and venues throughout the year. However, this composition will be significant in that it will consider the environmental impact of our sounds and incorporate our surrounding soundscapes into the work through improvisation. The Refugia Festival will also support this dissertation work and other environmentally-conscious events, such as including educational sessions about local sustainability efforts, which will take steps to preserve and celebrate each ecosystem through awareness of and interaction with the surrounding soundscapes. In Kathleen Dean Moore’s book Earth’s Wild Music: Celebrating and Defending the Songs of the Natural World, she introduces the scientific concept of “refugia” as “…places of safety where life endures” during natural disasters. My dissertation and the Refugia Festival will celebrate the natural world that continues to thrive despite human impact.

In order for my dissertation to serve a performance site’s particular soundscape, improvisation will play a significant role in the work for all performers. The improvisations will be prompted by non-traditionally notated mediums of text and visuals in order to offer as much autonomy to the performers based on what they are noticing about the soundscape. In this way, I am also developing a work that can sustain a performance life beyond its premiere and can be played throughout the world while still finding ways to celebrate and advocate for the natural, local soundscapes.

An important part of the Refugia Festival includes collaboration with local activists as well as scientific and cultural experts to offer educational programming and direct action in the hosting community. Because of this, not only will the music performances at the festival approach sustainability and coexistence in sonic form, but the festival will also serve as a catalyst for community engagement, education, and environmental preservation.

“Refugia” and the Refugia Festival will create unique musical experiences for performers and audiences that will be significant in their efforts to collaborate with natural, surrounding soundscapes. These projects will also increase awareness of our sonic environments and motivate others to preserve these natural soundscapes for future generations.

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