The Britt Festival Orchestra’s 2021 Season Features a Unique Musical Experience – Brush: Music in the Woodlands
Published: June 7, 2021
The Britt Festival Orchestra (BFO) will present the world premiere of an experiential new work by the multi-faceted, Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer, Caroline Shaw. Under the leadership of the festival’s Music Director, Teddy Abrams, the BFO will perform this special project on the Jacksonville Woodlands Trail system in six free performances from July 30 through August 2, 2021. Audience members will walk along the trails above the Britt Pavilion through groups of musicians spread along the trail, experiencing Brush: Music in the Woodlands as they go. “It points toward the idea of experiencing a brief encounter with something new and unexpected (“a brush with…”), and thinking about musical textures and ideas as brushstrokes, and of course the image of the brush in the woodlands,” says Shaw.
After the disastrous Almeda fire in addition to the pandemic last year, the BFO is giving back to the community with these free performances.
While COVID-19 has made planning our summer season difficult, the nature of the work will allow our performances to happen with all the necessary safety measures in place.
Brush: Music in the Woodlands continues Britt’s efforts to take the BFO into distinct outdoor settings to highlight the relationship between music and nature. These efforts are foundational to Britt’s mission and have become a point of emphasis for the BFO since our 2016 Crater Lake Project. “We’ve always been dreaming about a successor to the Crater Lake Project, another piece that brings music together with nature,” Music Director and Conductor Teddy Abrams said. “Given that Britt’s venue is immediately next to these beautiful Woodlands Trails in Jacksonville, it seems only natural that we would connect these two elements together. Caroline is the perfect person to imagine this music. She has such a creative mind and spirit of wonder that lend themselves well to developing this kind of experience.”
Following her time as the 2019 Composer/Conductor Fellow, Caroline Shaw is excited to share this musical experience with the world. Brush: Music in the Woodlands will explore interesting points along the Jacksonville Woodlands Trails by spreading small groups of BFO musicians along a 2.5-mile loop. On her vision of the musical experience, Shaw says, “Ultimately, I want the piece to be about how we listen and how we pay attention to the world around us, and if you give the world just a little bit more of a moment, you’ll notice something you wouldn’t have noticed before.” A recognized composer of pieces that range from voice and solo instruments to orchestras, this is Shaw’s first work created for a site-specific outdoor performance.
“We are excited to offer this special musical experience to our patrons and the southern Oregon community,” says Britt President and CEO, Donna Briggs. “After the devastating fires of last year and the ongoing pandemic, this is our chance to give back and share the joy of live music with our community.”
This special event is free to attend, but given our desire to minimize environmental impacts and to help traffic flow, registration will be required. Registration will open when we announce the rest of the offerings for the 2021 BFO season on June 25th. To stay up to date on the project and how to participate, please sign up for the Britt Buzz newsletter at Brittfest.org.
Performance dates and times:
Friday, July 30, 6:30-8:30 PM
Saturday, July 31, 10:00 AM-12:30 PM
Saturday, July 31, 6:30-8:30 PM
Sunday, August 1, 10:00 AM-12:30 PM
Sunday, August 1, 6:30-8:30 PM
Monday, August 2, 6:30-8:30 PM
Support for this project was provided by:
BFO Season Sponsor: James M. Collier
Woodlands Sponsor: Cutler Investment Group
Support: Oregon Community Foundation
About the Britt Festival Orchestra and Britt Music & Arts Festival
Founded in 1963, the Britt Festival Orchestra brings together 90 professional musicians from across the United States for three weeks of open-air performances each summer. Forming the heart of the annual Britt Music & Arts Festival, the Britt Festival Orchestra Season takes place in Jacksonville, Oregon, less than half an hour’s drive from the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The festival was the brainchild of Portland conductor John Trudeau and musician Sam McKinney, who came to southern Oregon in search of the perfect location. When they discovered the superb natural acoustics and stunning views of Britt Park – the former hillside estate of Jacksonville pioneer Peter Britt, a Swiss-born photographer who became one of Oregon’s most celebrated citizens – they knew that they had found it. In 1963, with a small chamber orchestra on a makeshift stage, the first summer outdoor music festival in the Pacific Northwest was born.
Since its grassroots beginnings, the non-profit organization has grown from a two-week chamber festival to a multi-disciplinary summer-long concert series with year-round education and engagement programs too. Constructed 40 years ago, the 2,200-capacity Britt Pavilion enables Britt to present world-class artists while maintaining the intimacy for which it is known.
An unusually versatile musician, Teddy Abrams is the widely-acclaimed Music Director of the Louisville Orchestra and Music Director and Conductor of the Britt Festival Orchestra. A tireless advocate for the power of music, Abrams has fostered interdisciplinary collaborations with organizations including the Louisville Ballet, the Center for Interfaith Relations, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Speed Art Museum, and the Folger Shakespeare Library. His rap-opera, The Greatest: Muhammad Ali, premiered in 2017, celebrating Louisville’s hometown hero with an all-star cast that included Rhiannon Giddens and Jubilant Sykes. Abrams’ work with the Louisville Orchestra has been profiled on CBS News Sunday Morning, NPR, and in The Wall Street Journal.
Caroline Shaw is a New York-based musician—vocalist, violinist, composer, and producer—who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She was the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2013 for Partita for 8 Voices, written for the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth, of which she is a member. Recent commissions include new works for Renée Fleming with Inon Barnatan, Dawn Upshaw with Sō Percussion and Gil Kalish, Seattle Symphony, Anne Sofie von Otter with Philharmonia Baroque, the LA Philharmonic, Juilliard 415, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with John Lithgow, the Dover Quartet, TENET, The Crossing, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Calidore Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, the Baltimore Symphony, and Roomful of Teeth with A Far Cry. Caroline’s film scores include Erica Fae’s To Keep the Light and Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline as well as the upcoming short 8th Year of the Emergency by Maureen Towey. She has produced for Kanye West (The Life of Pablo; Ye) and Nas (NASIR), and has contributed to records by The National, and by Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. Once she got to sing in three part harmony with Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds at the Kennedy Center, and that was pretty much the bees’ knees and elbows. Caroline has studied at Rice, Yale, and Princeton, currently teaches at NYU, and is a Creative Associate at the Juilliard School. She has held residencies at Dumbarton Oaks, the Banff Centre, Music on Main, and the Vail Dance Festival. Caroline loves the color yellow, otters, Beethoven opus 74, Mozart opera, Kinhaven, the smell of rosemary, and the sound of a janky mandolin.