Pine Chant (2021)
for cor anglais, clarinet, bassoon & electronics
by Lachlan Skipworth
Inspired by tree-ring growth data from the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR), this piece is a sonic embodiment of twelve Arizona trees and an emotional response to climate crisis. Dr. Margaret Evans (dendroecologist, LTRR faculty) and Dr. Kelly Heilman (postdoctoral research associate) provided scientific direction on the project, guiding our work with USDA Forest Service census data to explore themes of forest resilience and tree growth synchronicity within the context of the warming Anthropocene.
Tree-ring growth measurement sequences were selected for three species: Pseudotonga menziesii (Douglas fir), Pinus edulis (Colorado pinyon), and Pinus ponderosa (Ponderosa pine). These data, which record growth in Arizona trees as far back as 1772, were used to control various musical parameters of rhythm and texture. Skipworth’s lyricism is exquisitely rendered through an electronic “aura” of acoustic sounds created by our wind instruments—resonances made with human breath, cane grasses, and the bodies of trees.
The collaboration was designed by oboist Sara Fraker, whose creative work often explores intersections of ecology and music. Pine Chant has been presented in live performance at the LTRR, UArizona Center for Creative Photography (in coordination with their interdisciplinary exhibit, trees stir in their leaves), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, UArizona School of Music, and the 2022 Conference of the International Double Reed Society.
This project is a collaboration by the UArizona School of Music, School of Art, and Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research. It was made possible by a UArizona Production Faculty Seed Grant and the College of Fine Arts Fund for Excellence.
Pine Chant has been featured in the Environment section of the Arizona Republic, front page of the Arizona Daily Star, and a recent episode of For the Wild podcast. The composition was named "Work of the Year – Chamber Music" by the 2023 APRA AMCOS Art Music Awards.