Steven Mackey's Red Wood: A Musical Portrait of California’s Trees
Red Wood premieres in February as part of The Soraya’s Treelogy Project, a celebration and a call to action to save California’s iconic redwood, sequoia, and Joshua trees. The work will be performed by the composer on electric guitar alongside Delirium Musicum.
Steven Mackey’s Red Wood for solo electric guitar and string ensemble premieres as part of The Soraya’s Treelogy project, performed by Mackey on guitar with Delirium Musicum on a four-stop California tour this February and March.
Inspired by California’s epic wildfires, as chronicled by The New York Times journalist John Branch, The Soraya’s Executive and Artistic Director Thor Steingraber, and artist in residence Etienne Gara, Treeology was created as a musical response to the fires, and a tribute to the state’s iconic redwood, sequoia, and Joshua trees. The Treelogy project brings together renowned composers Steven Mackey, Billy Childs, and Gabriella Smith—all with deep California roots of their own—to create new works for this three-part concert. Produced, commissioned, and presented by The Soraya, Treelogy will tour the state bringing together scientists, educators, activists, and advocates along with its inspiring message to campuses across California.
Kicking off on February 23, Treeology premieres at The Soraya’s Great Hall in Northridge, California. The program then travels to the San José State University’s Hammer Theatre Center (Feb 26); Chico Performances (Feb 28); and at Sonoma State University’s Weill Hall in Berkeley (Mar 2).
Mackey’s Red Wood is approximately 22 minutes, comprising two halves: “Part 1 - Primeval…” and “Part 2 - Fairy Rings.” Mackey was inspired by American writer John Steinbeck’s quote describing the significance of the redwood tree in his North California hometown: “The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time. While it is true that the first reaction they elicit is ‘silence and awe,’ the seed in one’s psyche grows into something emotional and physical, which is when and where music begins for me.”
The title Red Wood references the reddish hue of the varnish on the wood of string instruments, as well as Mackey’s signature red electric guitar. The piece takes a comprehensive view of “wood” as central to life, with lamentable consequences from climate change.
Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 8pm
The Valley Arts Center Presents Treelogy
The Soraya’s Great Hall | Northridge, CA
Sunday, February 26, 2023 at 7:30pm
Hammer Theatre Center Presents Treelogy
Hammer Theatre Center | San José, CA
Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 7:30pm
Chico Performances Presents Treelogy
Laxson Auditorium | Chico, CA
Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 7:30pm
Sonoma State University Presents Treelogy
Weill Hall | Berkeley, CA
> Further information on Work: Red Wood
Photo: Kah Poon