John Fielder's photographs served as a backdrop for the Boulder Philharmonic when it performed Charles Denler's "Portraits in Season."

(Photo: John Fielder/courtesy Boulder Philhmarmonic)

The Boulder Philharmonic’s concert this Saturday features an unusual collaboration between Colorado landscape photographer John Fielder and Colorado composer Charles Denler.

The orchestra will give the first live performance of Denler’s “Portraits in Season” with Fielder’s imagery projected as a backdrop at Macky Auditorium in Boulder on Saturday night. Michael Butterman, the orchestra's music director, calls the presentation a kind of choreography.

Composer Charles Denler

(Photo: Courtesy Charles Denler)

The philharmonic is also hosting a pair of pre-concert hikes designed to let listeners reflect on how music can represent the natural world. The walks have helped hikers who aren’t necessarily classical music fans connect with orchestral music, Butterman said.

This and other nature-themed concerts by the Boulder Philharmonic helped the orchestra win a slot at the Shift Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The orchestra will perform there in 2017.

Butterman and Denler spoke with CPR Classical about organizing the concert, presenting music alongside nature photography and how Henry David Thoreau’s writings inspired “Portraits in Season.” Click the audio above to listen.

Interview highlights:

Denler on how Henry David Thoreau inspired the new piece

Michael Butterman, music director of the Boulder Philharmonic

(Photo: Courtesy Boulder Philharmonic)

"He was one of the few authors who not only wrote about nature but immersed himself in nature. Certainly, in 'Walden,' we see how he began to understand nature from the perspective of being inside of it. He also wrote books on walking, as simple as walking. And I thought, ‘Why don’t I write a suite that’s meant to accompany people while they’re taking a walk?’ They may not think about Thoreau … but what would be the perfect soundtrack if you were taking a walk through the foothills in Colorado?"

Butterman on how the nature hikes connect with listeners  

“We’ve had a number of our subscribers who were not particularly associated with hiking go and take some of these (hikes) and have their worlds expanded. At the same time we’ve had people who have not particularly been Boulder Phil subscribers, who are more outdoors folks and enjoy hiking, take these and all of a sudden and say, ‘I really should go hear this concert.’”