The Blue in the Distance
Zeitgeist presents The Blue in the Distance, a 360º Virtual Reality film presented with live music composed by Scott L. Miller, setting the poem of the same name by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen.
Virtual Reality headsets will be provided to watch the immersive 360º film while Zeitgeist and soprano Tracey Engleman perform the music live. The film, created by Miller, includes footage from Quarry Park Reserve in Waite Park, MN.
“I wanted to create a new VR concert work based on an inspiring natural Minnesota location for my longtime friends and collaborators here to perform. I chose the Quarry Park Reserve in Waite Park, MN, as the location and began filming there in April 2018, in the days following the blizzard that month. I felt it important to add a narrative element to the film and set about looking for poetry that resonated with the project, ideally by a Minnesotan and about Central Minnesota. While filming in the spring, I read a lot of poetry and ultimately came across the work of Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen. Joyce grew up in St. Joseph, not far from Quarry Park (it was just a closed granite quarry then), and her work frequently evokes imagery and aspects of life in Minnesota that resonate with me. The Blue in the Distance perfectly captures the natural setting of Quarry Park, and provides a perfect structure for me to organize the film and music around.” - Composer and Virtual Reality Filmmaker Scott L. Miller
In addition to The Blue in the Distance, Zeitgeist will perform Nattsanger by local composer Abbie Betinis with Norwegian text by Rolf Jacobsen, and George Crumb’s evocative work The Yellow Moon of Andalusia.
As a preview to the full production of The Blue in the Distance, Zeitgeist will host a Lowertown Listening Session on Tuesday, Jan. 7 with composer Scott L. Miller and poet Joyce Sutphen for a discussion on how the poetry, music, film, and a Minnesota park come together to create this new experience.
Scott L. Miller is an American composer described as ‘a true force on the avant-ambient scene’ of ‘high adventure avant garde music of the best sort’ (Classical-Modern Music Review). Best known for his electroacoustic chamber music and ecosystemic performance pieces, his music is characterized by collaborative approaches to composition and the use of electronics, exploring performer/computer improvisation and re-imagining ancient compositional processes through the lens of 21st century technology. Inspired by the inner-workings of sound and the microscopic in the natural and mechanical worlds, his music is the product of hands-on experimentation and collaboration with musicians and performers from across the spectrum of styles. His recent work experiments with VR applications in live concerts, first realized in his composition Raba, created for Tallinn-based Ensemble U:.
Three time McKnight Composer Fellow, his work is frequently performed by soloists, ensembles, and at festivals throughout North America and Europe. Recordings of his music are available on New Focus Recordings, Innova, and other labels, many featuring his long-time collaborators, the new music ensemble Zeitgeist (and whose albums he produces). His music is published by the American Composers Alliance, Tetractys, and Jeanné. Raba (NFR198) is his most recent album, a collection of audio-visual music drawn from collaborations with six film and video artists. Miller is a Professor of Music at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota, where he teaches composition, electroacoustic music and theory. He is Past-President (2014—18) of the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the U.S. (SEAMUS) and presently Director of SEAMUS Records.
Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm near St. Joseph, Minnesota, and currently lives in Chaska. She has degrees from the University of Minnesota, including a Ph.D. in Renaissance Drama. Her first book, Straight Out of View, won the Barnard New Women's Poets Prize (Beacon Press, 1995, republished by Holy Cow! Press in 2001). Coming Back to the Body (Holy Cow! Press, 2000) was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and Naming the Stars (Holy Cow! Press, 2004) won the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. In 2005, Red Dragonfly Press published Fourteen Sonnets in a letterpress edition, and in 2006 Sutphen co-edited the award-winning anthology To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present (New Rivers Press). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Minnesota Monthly, Water-Stone, and many other journals, and she has had work featured in Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry, and on The Writer's Almanac. She has also been a guest on A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor. In 2011 she was named the second Minnesota Poet Laureate by Governor Mark Dayton, following the tenure of Robert Bly.
With a voice the Boston Globe called “extraordinary in range, tonal quality, musicianship and dramatic effect,” soprano Tracey Engleman has gained a reputation for excellence in opera, recital and concert. Most recently, Ms. Engleman was awarded a 2016 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Musicians. Recent operatic roles include Papagena in The Magic Flute, Ofglen in The Handmaid’s Tale, the Page in Rigoletto and the Girl in the Bed in Casanova’s Homecoming with the Minnesota Opera, Julie in The New Moon with Music by the Lake, Kathy in The Student Prince with Skylark Opera, the School Teacher in Ainadamar with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Adina in L’Elisir d’amore and Norina in Don Pasquale with the Rochester Aria Group, and Elivira in I puritani with Minnesota Concert Opera. In 2010, Ms. Engleman premiered the role of Isabella Smith in The Ladysmith Story, a contemporary opera by Minnesota composer Christopher Gable.
Particularly gifted as a performer of contemporary music, Ms. Engleman has performed Two Poems from the Sung Dynasty with conductor and composer Bright Sheng with the Chicago Chamber Musicians and at the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center. Ms. Engleman premiered Minnesota composer Libby Larsen’s new orchestral version of Sonnets from the Portuguese with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra and recently premiered songs from the CD Tipping Point by composer Scott Miller with the internationally known contemporary ensemble, Zeitgeist. Upcoming performances include Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire with the St. Olaf Chamber Players.
Created and presented with the support of Mark Gill, Director, St. Cloud State University Visualization and Simulation Lab, film editing and production assistance from Kyle Yotter and Jack Wald. Support provided in part from:
● The SCSU Department of Music
● MN NICE - The Minnesota (State) Networked Immersive Collaborative Experience,
● and the Minnesota State Innovation Funding Program
● The American Composers Forum through the 2018 McKnight Composer Fellowship Program.
Tickets can be securely purchased by credit card or through your PayPal account in advance, or by cash, check, or credit card at the door. Tickets purchased online will be held at the door.
Please consider adding a $5 donation to Studio Z with your ticket purchase. Your donation supports the operation of Studio Z and keeps it an affordable venue for artists and presenters in the Twin Cities. Studio Z is owned and operated by Zeitgeist, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the music of our time.