Kathleen Carter Bell and Conor Bell Perform Jenni Brandon’s Going to the Sun: Snapshots from Glacier National Park

Kathleen Carter Bell, oboe and Conor Bell, bassoon perform Jenni Brandon’s  Going to the Sun: Snapshots from Glacier National Park on February 18, 2022, from 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm in a College Music Society, Southern Chapter, Regional Conference, Performance Session, Myths and Mountains in the BPAC Recital Hall, Delta State University, Highway 8 West, Cleveland, MS 38733.

The mission of the College Music Society is to promote music teaching and learning, musical creativity and expression, research and dialogue, and diversity and interdisciplinary interaction. A consortium of college, conservatory, university, and independent musicians and scholars interested in all disciplines of music, the Society provides leadership and serves as an agent of change by addressing concerns facing music in higher education.

Going to the Sun: Snapshots from Glacier National Park for oboe and bassoon explores the beauty of Glacier National Park in Montana. When Jennifer Gookin Cavanaugh approached me about writing a work, she told me how much she has always loved visiting the park and that it had been a family tradition for many years. Both Jennifer and Elizabeth Ball Crawford, who premiered this work, taught at the University of Montana at the time of writing this work. I thought it fitting to write a work that highlighted the performers’ close connection to the area in which they lived.

As I began to spend time with hiking books, topographical maps, and pictures taken by many visitors to the park over the years, I knew that a work about a journey through this park would be a great way to share not only Jennifer’s memories, but also the many travelers on the Going to the Sun Road. Those fifty miles across the park bring the visitor in contact with lakes, weeping walls, animals, meadows, the Continental Divide, and the power of the glacier that now moves closer and closer to extinction due to climate change.

The work is in one movement; however, it is broken into several sections. I liked the idea of telling these stories like looking back at snapshots you might take on your vacation to remind you of these natural and manmade wonders:

Early morning on the Road

Fifty miles begin…

Sunrise on Lake McDonald

Driving the Loop

The Weeping Wall

Stepping onto Jackson Glacier Overlook

Jackson Glacier

Sunset at the end of The Road

The oboe and bassoon are great story-telling instruments, lending their voices and character to each of these sections, painting the landscape with texture, range, and song.  And while the vastness and beauty of this park is too big to capture in any work of music, it is my hope that the listener can travel this road with us through this natural wonder and remember the importance of supporting our National Parks.