A Conversation with Alexander Arbachakov

It was on a warm, early summer evening in Portland, Oregon where I sat down with Alexander Arbachakov. Gathered at a barbecue, surrounded by Northwest environmental leaders and five delegates of Russian conservation groups, we discussed shamans, natural sound, and the spirit world. Mr. Arbachakov is a member of the Shor tribe of Kemerovo Oblast, Southern Siberia. [...]

Journeys to Inner and Outer Worlds: Part 1

  I recently visited the Hart Mountain Wildlife Refuge, in southeastern Oregon. The desert is a magical place of vast extremes. It was a dry 90 degrees by day and a dewy, frosty 32 by night. Eastern Oregon is in the height of a dry cycle (affected as well by the ongoing drought throughout the [...]

Field Notes from the Forest

Imagination, Goddard wrote, “is neither the language of nature nor the language of man, but both at once, the medium of communion between the two—as if the birds, unable to understand the speech of man, and man, unable to understand the songs of birds, yet longing to communicate, were to agree on a tongue made [...]

Composing a Twenty-First Century Wilderness

  In the summer of 2012, nestled in the central Alaskan wilderness of Denali National Park, nine composers participated in the first ever “Composing in the Wilderness” seminar. Sponsored by the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, Alaska Geographic, and the Park Service, these nine composers, from all over the world, signed up for the most unique [...]

Adventures in Eco-Musicology

  “Landscape is the culture that contains all human cultures.” ~ Barry Lopez I frequently take walks in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, near where I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I walk to watch and listen to birds, to compose and write in my head; to ponder. I often meet others, also summoned by the [...]

From Orchestra to Organ

My new work for organ will be premiered Sunday, April 26, 2015 at the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland by organist Jason Jia. I am well on the way to completing my first piece for organ, and not just any organ but a Rosales organ. The Rosales organ is an amazing, awe inspiring feat of engineering, [...]

Two Yosemites: An Outdoor Opera coming to a National Park near you

I recently completed the first act of my most ambitious project to date, Two Yosemites: An Environmental Chamber Opera. This project has sustained years of ideas and passions, Two Yosemites seeks to culminate history, conservation, music, drama and myth. The opera explores a pivotal moment in the history of the American environmental movement when two protean figures [...]

The Tree Ride

Winner of the 2013 Highsmith Competition, Tree Ride received its premiere by the San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra on September 28, 2013 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. “I drifted on through the midst of this passionate music and motion, across many a glen, from ridge to ridge; often halting in the lee of a rock for [...]


Tree-Wavings, a six minute work for string quartet, was premiered at the 2014 Oregon Bach Festival by Fear No Music.  The writings of John Muir have become a guiding inspiration in my music. It is not only his wonderful literary storytelling and lyrical style but also his sense of experience and place that lures me [...]