Composing in the Wilderness 2019: Kayaking Adventure
July 27 - august 8, 2019
Get further out of your comfort zone!
Following up on the success of the 2018 Arctic Adventure, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival is very excited to be offering its second guided adventure trip in collaboration with the National Forest Service, Alaska Geographic, and Federal Hall National Historic Site. Led by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias and designed for experienced acoustic or electroacoustic composers who want a more immersive backcountry experience, this field course will take nine participants on a week-long sea kayaking trip in spectacular Prince William Sound. Upon returning, the participants will have a couple of months to complete their pieces before the culminating concert takes place at Federal Hall National Memorial in New York City.
WHO IS THIS FOR?
Participants should be prepared to live in rustic conditions and be physically fit enough for multiple days of paddling, and carrying boats and gear while in camp. Participants must also be trained composers (professionals, university faculty members, or students currently enrolled in a university composition program) with experience preparing their own manuscripts and writing chamber or electroacoustic music for various instruments. This is not a "class" or "workshop" in that there is no instruction included (although we all learn from each other). Instead, it is a guided adventure trip for composers.
WHO ARE THE PERFORMERS?
The Festival's new music ensemble is called Corvus and it is made up of seasoned new music experts, many of whom are from New York City. More information about Corvus on the ABOUT link above.
What is the itinerary?
Here’s what we’ve got in store for you:
You’ll need to make arrangements to arrive in Anchorage on Saturday, 7/27/18 (or before). We’ve made reservations for everyone at Spenard Hostel in Anchorage: (2845 West 42nd Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska, USA 99517. 907-248-5036). You should be able to easily pick up a Taxi or Uber at the airport to get there.
7/28 - You’ll all load up in the van (with your kayaking gear) and head over to Alaska Geographic for an orientation and gear check. After that, you’ll head to a different outfitter to get rubber boots (for those who need them), and then head out for a day of activities in Anchorage including a visit to the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Museum. You’ll be back at the Spenard Hostel for the night.
7/29 - You’ll catch the 9:45 departure of the Glacier Discovery Train on the Alaska Railroad. Your luggage will travel separately in the van. This beautiful train ride will take you through some of Alaska’s most spectacular scenery on it’s way down to Whittier, where you’ll meet up with the van and have a relaxed lunch. In the afternoon, you'’ll go for an easy hike on the Portage Pass Trail with breathtaking views of the Portage Glacier. That evening you’ll stay at another hostel in Girdwood.
7/30 - Up early. You’ll be dropping off all your street clothes and computers at a secure government building in Girdwood, and then driving back down to Whittier for your meet-up with your Alaska Geographic guides. Then you gear up and head out on the water taxi to our drop-off point. The adventure begins! You’ll spend the rest of the day paddling, setting up camp, and getting in touch with the wilderness.
7/31 through 8/3 - Four more full days in Prince William Sound. Most days you’ll break camp and cover some distance to see different sorts of landscapes and wildlife, but occasionally, you may keep the same camp for more than one night to check out local hiking or sights. No guarantees about precisely what you’ll see, but Prince William Sound is a great place to see glaciers, whales, otters, bald eagles, bears, and a host of other sorts of wildlife.
8/4 - You’ll break camp and spend your last time in the wilderness before being picked up by the water taxi and returned to Whittier. There you’ll be driven back to Girdwood, collect your street clothes and computers, and settle in to a spacious rented house (details HERE) for showers and clean clothes.
8/5 through 8/7 - Three full days of creative time for everyone to get started on their compositions. We’ll make a few stops (as needed) at the local grocery store where everyone can pick up food and we may eat out once or twice. We provide four small MIDI keyboards (with USB cables) for note input, but you’re welcome to bring your own.
8/8 - Pack up, and drive back to Anchorage in the morning to drop everyone at the airport. Participants can fly out any time after noon, or extend their trip on their own.
What ABOUT THE PREMIERE?
We plan to premiere your pieces in Federal Hall National Historic Site in New York City. It is a beautiful and historic rotunda (a very resonant space) on Wall Street right next to the New York Stock Exchange. This performance will probably happen sometime in November. Composers are not required to attend, and your registration fee for the workshop does not cover any travel related to this premiere. Of course, we hope that all of you will consider coming. Here’s a video of a concert we did there a few years ago - including two of the musicians from Corvus.
what will it be like?
This Alaska Geographic course is active and field-based. Participants should be in good physical condition. Kayaking will be moderately strenuous, in two-person expedition-style boats, covering distances of approximately 5-12 miles per day and stretches of 2-3 hours at a time between breaks out of the boat. No previous kayaking experience necessary. Hiking will include exploratory walks along very uneven beach terrain, traveling off trail through thick underbrush, and potential climbs up steep slopes. Seating for meals and lessons is on the ground. Participants will participate in loading and unloading kayaks as well as carrying boats and group gear short distances on uneven terrain.
The entire course takes place outdoors and activities will continue rain or shine. Weather conditions are unpredictable in Prince William Sound and generally include precipitation. You must be prepared for a wide range of conditions. Temperatures can vary from near freezing to 80 degrees F. Mosquitoes and other biting insects can be numerous anytime during the summer. Be prepared with adequate warm clothing, a hooded rain jacket, and rain pants (rubberized fisherman style is highly recommended). Dress in layers. We will provide you with a detailed clothing and gear list.
Camping in Prince William Sound is primitive wilderness camping. There will be no amenities, including no outhouse. Backcountry toilet protocols will be taught and all materials provided. Camping will be in multi-person tents in order to fit the group in small camping areas; please plan to share a tent with at least one other course participant. Participants are welcome to bring their own backpacking-style tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad, or Alaska Geographic has gear to borrow for a minimal rental fee.
WILL I BE SAFE?
Yes! (Bearing in mind that you are choosing to come to a wilderness area with wild animals, open water, glaciers, and steep mountains.) At all stages of this trip, you'll be accompanied by naturalists and experienced guides whose job is to make sure you are safe and well-fed. You wouldn't be interested if you didn't want an adventure, right?
Applications are no longer being accepted for 2019.
If you wish to be notified about our future trips, please add your name to our mailing list below.