A celebration of music, puppets and the Earth took place on Saturday, April 22, at the Rowan University Owl Statue. To celebrate Earth Day, the College of Performing Arts hosted the Earth Day “Nature Walk” concert.
Attendees were guided along a trail on Rowan’s campus as musicians performed live at various parts of the path. The event featured performances from Rowan’s String Ensemble, Saxophone Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble and many others.
The nature walk ended with a performance of “The Puppet Cycle: Small World Stories,” an original short play starring contemporary artist-made marionettes from Phantom Limb Company’s (PLC) and their solar-powered mobile stage. PLC is a New York-based company that creates stories that focus on climate emergencies and environmental injustice through puppetry.
The first performance on the path was by the stream between Robinson Hall and Meditation Walk. The song that was played was “Meadowdance” from “songbirdsongs” by John Luther Adams. Aaron Bonner and Emma Sawyer were on the piccolos while Aaron Brelau was on percussion.
The Rowan University String Ensemble played “Spring” from “The Four Seasons” by Antonio Vivaldi between Wilson Hall and Meditation Walk. Jiannan Cheng directed the performance.
Across the nature trail bridge to the left of the sidewalk, Ryan Mathis played “Mourning Dove Sonnet” by Christopher Deane on percussion.
At the nature trail clearing to the right of the sidewalk, you could hear “Broadloom” by Kala Pierson. Anthony Demateis, Kassie Miano and Anthony Quiles all played the trumpets. Aiden Bacter was on the horn, Julia Irizarry was on the trombone and Pierce Shaltis was on the tuba.
On the back patio steps of Rowan Hall by the Rowan pond, attendees could hear “… and then the universe exploded” by Olivia Kieffer. The song was performed by Rowan University Saxophone Ensemble with Noa Evans as the director and Andrew Dykeman-Daams as the graduate conductor.
The final performance of “The Puppet Cycle: Small World Stories” from PLC took place on the patio of the Business Hall.
The event was organized by Joe Higgins, the director of bands at Rowan, with the help of a couple of students who were interested in the topic. Later throughout the project, they were able to garner support from the music department and were connected to the curricular student ensembles.
“I think we need some special events to help highlight what we should be thinking about every day,” Higgins said. “This is a special day to hear our campus in a different way. You’d hope that the next time someone walks through that nature path behind engineering, they’re gonna hear the difference.”
The event is part of a four-day event called the Sound Planet Music Festival, which is about music and sustainability.
The festival is meant to be an outward-facing series of performances, lectures and educational opportunities for people to learn about sustainability initiatives and find ways they can get involved through music.
“I think to help the planet in the ways that it needs help, we have to see ourselves as a part of the planet. And music is an excellent metaphor and experience and tool for that,” Higgins said.