Thoughts on the Sun Tunnels


So, you know, I had this crazy idea to film and record a bunch of experimental solo clarinet pieces out at the Sun Tunnels.  And, well, as promised, I spent two days this summer doing just that.  I gathered my crew, photographer Tom Bear, and filmmaker Andrew James, and Devin Maxwell and June Maxwell my audio engineers, and we figured out how to record and film in 4 channels out there.  It was really windy!!  It was really hot!!  It was insanely beautiful.  I was inspired to record Pisaro’s Within 6 there, so I did each 10 minute movement in a different tunnel, and we recorded five 5 minute spaces of silence.  Slowly I worked my way through the piece, in each tunnel, and of course the light started to change, the clouds changed, and the sun began to go down.  And just as I was finishing up the last movement, as the sun was about to go down for the night, forty or so firefighters drove up in giant fire trucks!!  They were ready to party and camp there, after a day of fighting forest fires.  We very nicely asked them if they could be quiet for 10 minutes while I finished recording?? – so forty sooty, bearded fire fighters, looking like pirates off a ship, let me quietly play a note every 15 seconds or so, in total silence, to a beautiful sunset.  Then they jumped out of their trucks and got in the tunnels and sang songs!  We packed up and camped for the night closer to the mountains, lit a fire, and figured everything out.  And started up the next morning recording pieces by Lucie Vitkova, Daniel Goode and Christian Wolff and had a little audience for a few of the pieces- art lovers out at the desert, clapping for me!  What can I say? The whole experience was so magical for me.  The sound of the tunnels is probably impossible to capture, but we certainly tried, they sound like nothing else.  The goal is to install these films in 4 channels, in 4 walled rooms, and let the audience experience the pieces and watch the sky and the slow and subtle change in the desert through the Sun Tunnels (and me!  performing!!).  A few of the works I’ll also be able to perform live, in concert, with the 4 channel installation, so it should be really fun once we put it all together. And, of course, I’m inspired to play many more hours of music out there:  Nomi Epstein, Devin Maxwell and Laura Steenberge are writing me new works, and I’ll be taking a Lois V Vierk clarinet trio, James Tenney’s MONODY and more pieces the next time I go out!!!   Thank you SO much Andrew James for the enormous amount of post-production he is currently doing!!

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