A Nature-Themed Boulder Philharmonic Concert Featuring Composer Charles Denler

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

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.

Photo: Charles Denler composer horizontal
Composer 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

Photo: Michael Butterman of Boulder Philharmonic
Michael Butterman, music director of the Boulder Philharmonic

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.’”