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Music in nature instills awe

by MARCY TIMBLIN / Contributing Writer
| July 5, 2024 1:00 AM

DOVER — Dacher Keltner has studied the human experience of awe for more than 15 years. 

A psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, his extensive study involving 26 cultures led him to categorize the sources of awe into what he calls the “eight wonders of life; spirituality, big ideas, life and death, the moral beauty of others, nature, moving in unison, music, and visual art.

 At least three of those wonders can be found at “In a Landscape: Classical Music In The Wild,” an outdoor music event at Pine Street Woods on July 29. Portland, Ore.-based concert pianist Hunter Noack travels to scenic landscapes throughout the West with a nine-foot Steinway grand piano. Listening with wireless headphones, attendees are free to roam the landscape for an immersive experience.  

Kaniksu Land Trust, the nonprofit conservation organization that owns and manages the 180-acre Pine Street Woods community forest shares a key missional tenet with "In a Landscape" — to instill awe through connections with nature, and community.

“If you combine these sensory experiences with learning about each place - historic events, geologic features, local industry and culture — we can get a deeper understanding of the diverse people and stories of each place,” Noack said.

“Our forests, water, far vistas, and diverse meadows make living in our region special. Ideally, we are experiencing these places on a daily basis in a myriad of ways,” KLT executive director Katie Cox expressed. “In A Landscape is going to bring us an opportunity to spend time in nature in a way that is a truly unique experience. I don’t think you are going to want to miss this event.”

The Pine Street Woods concert is one of 52 "In a Landscape" performances this year between May and October in the Pacific Northwest. A performance at Manito Park in Spokane on July 20 and the Pine Street Woods event are the only local opportunities to catch the show this year. 

Collaborating with other artists that are not typically associated with traditional Western classical music, Noack sometimes partners with singers, poets, visual and culinary artists, and dancers, making each performance a unique experience that deepens the connection to the local community and culture.

“My husband and I plan our annual road trip around Hunter’s show schedule,” cites a quote from a concert-goer on the "In a Landscape" website. 

The two organizations share another important quality: a commitment to accessibility. Kaniksu Land Trust will select a community not-for-profit group to receive free tickets to the concert through "In a Landscape's" Good Neighbor Program, which also provides opportunities for discounted tickets. KLT’s monthly eNews features details about the program. The event is underwritten by the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts with the Music Conservatory of Sandpoint and Schweitzer as supporting sponsors.

Keltner urges us all to pursue opportunities to experience awe in our daily lives. In his book "Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life" (Penguin Press 2023), he summarizes, “Awe is a basic state of mind, a primary form of consciousness. We can find it, other studies would suggest, readily. There is everyday awe to enjoy.” 

Through nature, collective movement, and music, "In a Landscape" offers such an opportunity. 

"In a Landscape" at Pine Street Woods takes place on Monday, July 29 at 6 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $40 per person and the event is open to all ages. Parking is limited at Pine Street Woods, 19915 W. Pine St., so a special arrangement has been made to shuttle attendees from the Sandpoint High School parking lot starting at 4:45 p.m.. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic and beverages but are asked to leave pets at home. Eichardt’s Public House will be on-site with a no-host bar. 

Information: kaniksu.org

    "In a Landscape" performance in Driggs.