Woodland Revival

I am a composer, master guitarist and 2014 recipient of the Portia White Prize. I am currently composing a one-hour multi-movement music suite, Woodland Revival, highlighting forest ecology in Nova Scotia.

With this music suite I envision drawing from the diverse cross-section of musical elements I have been exploring and performing. Among these elements are my Celtic and Classical influences, performances with the Festival of Silk Road Rumi concerts inspired by Yo Yo Ma and many years creating with the 1st Nations of Waycobah and Wagmatcook. Wooden instruments will be the focus of Woodland Revival, composing for myself on solo acoustic guitar, a string quartet, varying percussion instruments, vocalist, and a guitar ensemble.

Bio-diversity is paramount to the well being of planet earth. With that in mind I want to explore and create new music focusing on the human relationship to trees beyond their economic return. There is much forest beauty right outside my front door in Cape Breton but I also witness large amounts of logging truck activity as they take their endless loads to the Biomass plant in Point Tupper.

For many years I have been concerned with the state of the forests in Nova Scotia. For me the current forestry practices in NS, which include large amounts of forests on crown land being clear-cut, are reducing them to disturbed landscape, increasing eutrophication in rivers and lakes while also destroying vegetation and habitat for birds and animals. I believe this practice to be highly unsustainable and it is my desire with this Woodland Revival to generate conversations about these forestry practices in Nova Scotia.

I was never sure how I would bring a musical expression of my concerns of the state of the world’s forests to light until I was reminded last fall by 97 year old Gaelic Scholar, Sr. Margaret MacDonnell who handed me her paper written in 1965 at Harvard titled ‘Sacred Trees of Ireland’. She expressed her own concern about the present state of the trees in Nova Scotia and suggested that concern needed a piece of music written to highlight the state of the forests and that I should be the one to write that composition. She has reinvigorated my imagination and recommitted me to try to bring this concern into reality.