Composing in the Wilderness is presented by the FAIRBANKS SUMMER ARTS FESTIVAL in partnership with ALASKA GEOGRAPHIC, the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, and the U.S FOREST SERVICE.


Composing in the Wilderness is not a class or a workshop, but a shared wilderness experience for adventurous composers at all levels. We welcome professionals, as well as university faculty members and students.


See our other teaser videos HERE and HERE.


Applications now being accepted for 2020

Now Hear ensemble in santa barbara (9/20)

Elements Art Exhibit in texas (9/17)

World premieres in New York City


Now in its ninth year, this unusual field course is offered by the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in collaboration with Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service.  It is led by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias.

Working with experienced guides, naturalists, and scientists, we take experienced composers into the backcountry of Alaska's wilderness and provide them with an intense and immersive adventure. With this as their inspiration, the composers then have the opportunity to compose original chamber music that is premiered by top-notch contemporary music performers on staff at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

Nan Eagleson (Naturalist from the Murie Science and Learning Center) and Stephen Lias

Nan Eagleson (Naturalist from the Murie Science and Learning Center) and Stephen Lias

The "Denali Adventure" field course (started in 2012), allows composers to spend four days in the back country of Denali National Park, after which have four days in a secluded location to compose.  Returning to Fairbanks, the group meets up with "Corvus" - the contemporary music ensemble of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and their new pieces are rehearsed and then premiered both in Fairbanks and in the visitors center of Denali National Park.

2018 and 2019 saw the introduction of a second, and much more immersive, offering that took composers on a week-long canoe trip above the Arctic Circle (2018) and an epic sea-kayaking trip Prince William Sound (2019). The resulting pieces, completed in the following months, are premiered in New York City at the iconic Federal Hall National Memorial.

For 2020, we are returning to a single trip (the classic Denali trip). We may resume the more immersive trips in the coming years as we gauge interest and cost.

Each year, our group is made up of a diverse group of composers from all levels of their career (student, professional, professor, freelance), and from many countries around the world.  We value this diversity and encourage applicants of all ages and nationalities.

It is the mission of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival to help participants awaken their inner artist; enrich lives by increasing personal and professional growth; and engage the spirit, intellect and energy in an empowering way.  Composing in the Wilderness supports this vision by providing a life-changing artistic adventure, a deep sense of community, and a genuine connection to wilderness.



Drawing on experts in every discipline, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival brings together high-level musicians, chefs, dancers, actors, photographers, and artists of all types for two intense weeks in July.  The resident contemporary music ensemble for the festival (Corvus) is led by two New-York-based performers with deep Alaskan roots: Andie Springer (violin) and Katie Cox (flute).  Each year they enlist other accomplished performers to create a dynamic chamber ensemble which presents concerts in Fairbanks, as well as outreach events in rural communities of interior Alaska.  Participants in Composing in the Wilderness have the privilege not only to have their pieces premiered by Corvus, but also to develop a lasting working relationship with these musicians.  

“And one can not say enough about the players of Corvus. With even less time than the composers had to write them, they had to master nine completely new pieces for their premieres. They played—and sang—exceptionally through the program. How fortunate the composers are to have such support in their performers. Bravo to all!”
— Peter Alexander (Music Critic for Boulder Daily Camera)