The Malheur Symphony

A note from Jay & Teresa Bowerman in support of the Malheur Symphony commission.

A year ago, like many Oregonians, we were surprised and dismayed by the not-guilty verdict for the Malheur occupiers. lt was sad that such a magnificent nature preserve (the largest on the Pacific Flyway) should become infamous for such a divisive political purpose.

While struggling to understand this legal outcome following the obvious desecration of land, destruction of property, and disregard for the sacred nature of this place, we found comfort in a piece of classical music called " Cantus Arcticus" (Concerto for Birds and Orchestra) by Finnish composer Einojunhani Rautavaara. Hauntingly interwoven into the fabric of this grand orchestral work were recordings of arctic birds on the Finnish tundra. We began to imagine a similar piece of music, written for, about, and incorporating sounds from Malheur-music inspired by this special place and perhaps providing a catalyst for healing. Michael Gesme, director of the Central Oregon Symphony encouraged us. A meeting with Alice and Cal Elshoff, board members of Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, brought further support for the idea, including a pledge of financial support.

The objective from the beginning has been to create and perform an original piece of music inspired by and referencing Malheur, not as political statement but rather as a celebration of its natural beauty and unmeasurable value.

Composer Chris Thomas has accepted a commission and begun work on the composition. Michael Gesme is helping plan for a world premiere performance in Burns next year as well as including it as part of the 2018-2019 season of the Central Oregon Symphony in Bend. Teresa and I provided a seed grant to start this project. We also intend there to be opportunity for input and, hopefully, performance by the Burns Paiute tribe during the premier.

lf appropriately moved by the idea and the music, please consider joining us in underwriting the project. We are hoping for a broad coalition of supporters, from major grants to small gifts by private citizens, all of whom will share ownership in Malheur and in the music. Sincerely Jay & Teresa Bowerman.

(Please note, a donation to the commission is not a COSA membership donation - to become a donating member of COSA, please visit the Individual Giving page.)