Saranac Lake, NY — Visitors to Lake Champlain will soon be able to learn about the ecological and cultural diversity of the lake and its surrounding area through music and sound. The Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has been awarded a $40,000 grant to support an interpretive music project that celebrates regional biodiversity and human diversity while engaging American and Canadian audiences in a shared artistic experience of the Champlain Basin.
ANCA Awarded $40K Lake Champlain Basin Artist-in-Residence Program Grant
The “Watershed Voices” project — a collaboration of regional partners including ANCA’s Adirondack Diversity Initiative and McClure Productions Inc. — was awarded the grant through the Lake Champlain Basin Artist-in-Residence Program and NEIWPCC, a regional commission that helps the states of the Northeast preserve and advance water quality.
“Art and nature are in direct conversation. Art is the investigation and/or observation of nature. As a working artist in my current position, I am thrilled to see nature being translated this way,” said Adirondack Diversity Director Tiffany Rea-Fisher, who is also a dancer and choreographer.
Paul Smith’s College professor, eco-musician and composer Glenn McClure will serve as the lead composer for the Watershed Voices project. The core musical content, made up of melodies and chord progressions, will be driven by lake core data collected and curated by Dr. Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College. These lake core samples represent thousands of years of climate history and human intervention in the Champlain Basin.
“Just as we learn from a young age to translate data into pictures — like line and bar graphs — we can also translate data in musical notes through modular mathematics,” said McClure. “This presents a tangible link between the subject and the musical expression.”
McClure said this project represents a point of collaboration between scientists and musicians in their common goal to engage the public in an integrated experience of the natural world. He said the lyrics will be drawn from writings of past and present Lake Champlain Basin poets, residents, explorers, and cultural leaders and will represent diverse racial and linguistic communities, including indigenous artists.
“Memory not only exists in the human mind but also in our environmental record,” said McClure. “Lake core samples tell us of the changes in the natural world and the human footprint of the Champlain Basin going back beyond the time of the Roman Empire. The words of our diverse residents over time helps us understand the world we have inherited and informs our decisions moving forward. Music allows us to combine the musical voice of the Earth with the human voices that continue to shape our collective identity.”
McClure will mentor three other composers in using scientific data from the watershed to create five choral and instrumental works. The Northern Lights Choir, The Choeur Classique de l’Outaouais, and The Orchestra of Northern New York will perform the project’s final pieces at live public concerts.
A website dedicated to the project will host blogs from participating musicians and scientists, an online concert hall, links to partner organizations, a user-generated content platform, and recognition of LCBP and other supporters. All content will be available in English and French. The new website is expected to launch in Summer 2023.
ANCA is an independent, nonprofit corporation with a transformational approach to building prosperity across northern New York. Using innovative strategies for food systems, clean energy, small businesses, and equity and inclusion, ANCA delivers targeted interventions that create and sustain wealth and value in local communities.
The Adirondack Diversity Initiative (ADI), a program of ANCA, exists at the intersection of environmental and transformational justice, working to make the Adirondacks a more welcoming and inclusive place for both residents and visitors while ensuring a vital and sustainable Adirondack Park for future generations.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) coordinates and funds efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources, in partnership with government agencies from New York, Vermont, and Québec, private organizations, local communities, and individuals.
NEIWPCC is a regional commission that helps the states of the Northeast preserve and advance water quality.
Photo at top: Paul Smith’s College professor, Dr. Curt Stager, collects a core sample from Lake Champlain. Photo provided by Audrey Schwartzberg, ANCA Communications Officer.
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