CATALINA Bar and Grill
Dov plays on #1 New Age Charted CD for February, 2004
Peter Sterling's Harp Dreams
Past News...notes and thoughts
of the Sacred Forest'
April 28th, 2001, 8:00 p.m. Los Angeles Valley College
Other Selections on the Program
Lt. Kiji Suite:
Notes on SYMPHONY OF THE SACRED FOREST by Gary Dov Gertzweig
This Symphony of the Sacred Forest is an orchestral symphonic musical work which examines and brings attention to the plight of forests around the world. As up to 95% of the forests in America have already been logged, and a rising amount of deforestation is occurring across the world, the future of the remaining forests is of highest importance in today's world. Not only do forests manufacture our oxygen supply and maintain the atmospheric conditions which make life possible on earth, but they comprise the basic fabric for life on land and give home to thousands of species of wildlife.
This musical composition contains various themes which I composed as I hiked and traveled through several different beautiful Southern California oak woodlands. I listened to the birds, followed the flight of soaring hawks, drawing and painting the lines in the arching valleys and coastal live oaks and sycamore trees, and drank from the streams and rivers as did the grazing deer in the green meadows. Before that adventure, I had spent a year learning as a docent in Malibu's Charmlee Natural Area, where I was taught by Ranger Matt Kouba and began to study the native plants and animals, learning many by name. The closer one feels to our natural world, the more one wants to see it treasured for future generations. I wanted to bring these melodies and the spirit of the forests into the concert halls, to inspire audiences to feel the healing energies I felt, and to point towards a sense of well being that only nature can supply.
Here in Los Angeles, there are still many beautiful natural areas of oak woodlands, and graceful hills and streams. One particular valley had caught my attention in 1990, and I took many a hike into beautiful Sunshine Canyon on the northern border of L.A. and the tip of Santa Clarita......As I listened to the sound of the stream, and each time saw magnificent birds flying in the air currents......I was aware that this forest was set to be destroyed to make way a landfill for the trash from the City of Los Angeles. The hope was that this Symphony could be completed and performed before the trees were removed.....as an inspiration for the County to choose to seek one of the many alternatives available whereby no forests would need to be cut. Towards this end, I held a panel discussion with experts at the 1996 Eco Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.....and despite thousands of letters, signatures, concerts, and presentations before the L.A. County Board of Supervisors that were collected by the various organizations, thousands of beautiful oak trees, some several hundred years old were removed in sunshine Canyon to make room for the trash. All the animals had to flee, and the river which was a delicate gentle cascade had been lost forever.
At this point there are many other forests across the world, whose futures are in question, whether to the threat of landfill, cutting to become lumber, rainforests cleared to make room to graze cattle, or disease due to air pollution; and this Symphony is dedicated to them all and to the spirit of the people who have tried to stop such destruction. Most notably are the Redwoods, many who stood before Columbus came to America, standing as testimony to the immense power and wisdom of nature. History tells us that even the giant Sequoias were a target for the logger, one being carried to a World's Fair in Chicago, and after several more were cut in Grant's Grove to be used as lumber, it was realized that the texture of the giant trees was unfit to be used for wood products, the trees would splinter and thus were saved from the course of extinction. At the same time, John Muir launched a major lobbying and writing campaign and Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant National Parks eventually were established, protecting the Sequoias forever.
Unfortunately for the giant coastal redwoods in Northern California, they don't splinter and thus have been eagerly desired for lumber and the efforts to protect these trees have had a more difficult challenge. One present display of unconditional love for the redwood forests is by Julia Butterfly Hill. For over a year she valiantly lived a hundred feet up in a redwood tree named Luna.. She held on until she accomplished her goal of saving Luna and Luna's closest neighbors, while Pacific Lumber's workers tried to scare her out of the tree by brushing her with helicopter winds, as if the cold and winds from nature weren't enough to deal with. From her perch, she oversaw the remaining trees she endeavored to save, trying to protect areas from clear-cutting, which not only damages the trees, but opens the way for vast soil erosion which silts the rivers and streams, endangering salmon and other wildlife as well.
She is the symbol for those who believe these trees are integral to the future of the planet. Quite simply trees make the air and together the trees are the centerpiece of a tapestry of many making up a forest, rich in species and beauty. Her message has been one of love, that the trees are our future, they give us air and represent the fabric of our deep history and unconscious.....To this spirit this music is dedicated, and to people like John Muir, John Denver and Julia Butterfly, David Brower, who have heard the trees speak within their heart and have endeavored to remind us of our common origin.
Solving the global challenge of protecting our forests is quite a task. Some think that only trees planted by a human should be cut, encouraging vast tree planting which could stabilize our atmosphere. Tree farms and man made forests would be available for wood products. An increase in recycled wood, advances in wood alternatives, and a change in Christmas Tree traditions whereby Christmas becomes the time to decorate live trees and plant them, can rejuvenate the efforts to protect our forests. Rainforests need protection through aiding local inhabitants to create revenue from products from the forests they live in and prevent additional leveling for cattle and farmland.
A renewed sense of hope also awaits Sunshine Canyon and other potential landfill sites, through recycling, and technology that can transform trash, through various stages of sorting, heating, sterilization, and processing into building products for use as roads, housing, and other implementations which would save on the cutting of forests as well. Finally, with a little ingenuity and vision, the trash buried in Sunshine Canyon can be dug up, processed, recycled and reused, and a forest can be replanted. Perhaps the even the stream can flow again, and golden eagles will sail above the growing trees.
To bring these melodies into symphonic realization and create the parts that an orchestra can play, I worked with two fellow violinist/composers, first Kirk Hunter, who wove the melodies via his midi-studio into the first arrangement, and then Cary Belling who finalized and edited the composition for full orchestra.
In the Symphony of the Sacred Forest, in the opening section, one can hear the trickle of the river, as the theme emerges as sunlight to the early morning groves. Later we hear the threat of impending doom, through the dangers of the chain saw, as brass and strings sound the call to action. The Hawk call sends word and the danger dissipates, as a forest waltz ensues, allowing the delicateness of the forest flora and fauna to emerge, and the creatures to engage in their own form of dance......Ultimately, the birds sing a long serenade which entices the rest of the orchestra to rouse into an anthem and celebration in contemporary musical fashion. May the triumphant ending to the Symphony of the Sacred Forest be symbolic of the feeling we will have once we the people of the planet come to the realization of the magnificent treasure we have in our Sacred Forests, and share the desire to leave it as it is for the legacy of the future generations.
.......Gary 'Dov' Gertzweig, March 2001