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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

A Place Where Two Worlds Meet

Posted by | September 6, 2012

On Sunday, August 26th, I attended an afternoon concert at The Colony Hotel. One hundred fellow music lovers and I enjoyed a dozen classical piano duets by maestro Warren King and his college roommate, recording artist David Pihl. Ticket proceeds came to the Laudholm Trust – it was music played for the benefit of science. What better accompaniment to our special nature at the Reserve than the seashell symmetries of Bach’s cantatas or the sunflower melodies of Mozart?

While listening to David play a rapturous rendition of Edvard Grieg’s “Wedding Day at Troldhaughen,” I thought how well art can capture and intensify a place. Grieg’s lyrical music swept us away to the fjords of 19th century Norway; would great works like Smetana’s “Die Moldau” or Debussy’s “La Mer” work similarly here at the Wells Reserve, where the river meets the sea? Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” on the iPod are downright danceable on a walk through our meadows and trails, I proudly admit. And this month, hurricane-borne waves will undoubtedly pound our beach like a Beethoven symphony... or at least call to mind Bob Dylan singing “the ocean wild like an organ played.”

Music's not the only way to get to the heart of a place. There's also our annual Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival. One hundred master artisans will be showcasing their wares, many inspired by nature. It's my first Crafts Festival, so I have no idea what to expect. I've heard good things, though.

This year, along with the thousands of juried sculptures, paintings, jewelry, clothes, pottery, photos, etc., Laudholm Live music also returns to the main campus, with daily performances by Chief Noda and a special Sunday 11am concert, also sponsored by The Colony Hotel, from jazz guitarist Gary Wittner. (On Sunday morning the art and science of mixology will be featured as well – bloody marys and mimosas served by our friends at Duffy’s Tavern & Grill.)

Music and art in the service of science and nature. Why does it work so well here, year after year? Why does it fit this place? Here’s what I think: while nature’s nature is expressed in the world around us, human nature is communicated through what we make, particularly our art. Putting the two side by side holds the keys to the kingdom of the sublime. I think it’s why coastal Maine’s arts community continues to thrive, why New York has Shakespeare in the Park, why big sculptures work so well in fields, and why events here at the Reserve are so fun.

Author and gardener Michael Pollan would seasonally mow a couple paths through his otherwise wild Connecticut meadow for the surprisingly satisfying juxtaposition of form and chaos. They were how he brought order to his universe; research, education, and conservation, plus music, art, and the Crafts Festival, are how we do it here at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. Come see the worlds meet!


Here’s an original 1903 recording of Edvard Grieg himself playing his “Wedding Day at Troldhaughen” song. And here’s a newer version by pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, who really knocks it out of the park. And finally, here's a photo of my favorite spot on the Laird-Norton Trail here at the Reserve -- beautiful geometry in the wild woods:

Laird-Norton trail bend

What are your favorite artworks in, or for, or about, nature?

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