premiered by the GVSU New Music Ensemble @ Badlands National Park, July 1st, 2016
Canvas the Bear was written for the GVSU New Music Ensemble Microworks Competition, which solicits 60-second works from student composers. I was delighted when our director, Dr. Bill Ryan, asked me to expand the work for the 2016 National Parks Tour because, in part, the work was conceived about an experience in Rocky Mountain National Park.
When I was quite young, my family often visited my maternal grandparents in Colorado. My granddad had (and still has) a Jeep from the 1980s that is in quite poor condition — no speedometer, no seatbelts, no roof or doors, and, perhaps of most concern, gas has to be poured directly into the carburetor each spring to get it to run. Nonetheless, we’ve put miles and miles on it navigating mountain trails in the Rockies. One such trip, on the way back down a trail that we had spent the better part of an afternoon climbing, we came face-to-face with a full-grown bear who was idly loitering in the middle of the trail. To my 10-year-old self, he or she appeared to be massive.
I was sure that I was going to be eaten.
However, the bear meandered off without incident, apparently unperturbed by the loud, junky engine of the Jeep.
Canvas the Bear is written as a tribute to that animal–I imagined, just maybe, that I might come face-to-face with them again on the tour, perhaps this time frolicking in a field in the Tetons or sitting on a trail in Yellowstone, scaring the bejeezus out of other tourists.