Beginning in 2006, composer Peter Swendsen devoted a year to studying soundscape composition and ecoacoustics as a Fulbright Fellow in Oslo, Norway. He derived great inspiration from his time there, most notably from his immersion in the stark beauty of the region’s shifting seasons and its sometimes unforgiving weather.
Swendsen, now an associate professor of computer music and digital arts in Oberlin’s TIMARA Department, has long been fascinated by the capacity of sound to challenge and extend our sense of place and sharing of experience. He collaborates with performers to shape pieces that traverse acoustic and electroacoustic sound worlds.
The result of this collaboration is a suite of four works based on his experiences amid the woods, water, and mountains of Norway. It is part of Allusions to Seasons and Weather, a new recording from Swendsen on the Oberlin Music label.
Released in May, Allusions to Seasons and Weather was recorded at the Banff Centre in Alberta and in Oberlin’s Clonick Hall. It consists of the original suite itself, as well as three additional pieces that combine field recordings and electronics with music performed by the conservatory's award-winning Contemporary Music Ensemble and a host of talented collaborators.
“Living in Norway was an engrossing and artistically inspiring experience, full of unique visual, sonic, and temporal sensations that thoroughly influenced my music,” says Swendsen, ever grateful to the many people who helped form his experience and the numerous musicians who helped deliver it in the studio. (Swendsen discusses the project and his fascination with nature in an interview on WOBC radio’s Organized Noise program.)
Critical praise for the recording has been similarly effusive.
“It's music to get lost inside, a vacant and quietly violent plain mesmerizing in its subtlety,” wrote Q2 Music in July, when Allusions to Seasons and Weather was the New York station’s album of the week.
Distributed by Naxos of America, Allusions to Seasons and Weather is available through select retailers and digital music channels worldwide.
ABOUT OBERLIN MUSIC: Oberlin Music is the official recording label of the Oberlin Conservatory. It celebrates the artistic vision and superlative talent of Oberlin’s faculty, students, and alumni—on campus and on tour. Integral to this mission is Clonick Hall, a superior recording facility dedicated to capturing studio sessions in the heart of the conservatory.