Photos courtesy of Dr. Stephen Lias
places. It inspired an awe in people that helped to foster a national appreciation for the parks. Art has the power to move people in a way that just telling them about a place doesn’t do.” Lias was the first musical artist-in-residence to serve at Denali National Park. According to Denali arts coordinator Tim Rains, composers challenge listeners to experience the national parks in a unique way. “The neat thing about musical artists-inresidence is that when someone creates a painting, they do it by themselves. But when someone composes a piece of music, other people get to play it. The music lives on as it is played by different musicians, and people listening to it in Texas or Indiana or Virginia get to feel what it’s like to be in Alaska. “For so many people, Alaska is not accessible. It is a land of mythos. We, of course, encourage people to visit, but the artist-inresidence program helps people recognize its value, even if they never have the opportunity to come here.” While in Alaska last summer, Lias also spent a week serving as instructor to nine other composers from around the world in the first-ever “Composing in the Wilderness” field seminar sponsored by Alaska Geographic, Denali National Park and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. Guided by Lias, the composers spent four days in the Denali wilderness composing music that was performed live by professional musicians just a few days later. “The places we were and the music that was created just took my breath away,” said Lias, who will return to Denali to lead the seminar again this summer. “It was simply magic and totally unforgettable.”
SFA composition professor Dr. Stephen Lias looks toward Mount Fairweather from his tiny floating cabin in Glacier Bay National Park, where he spent part of last summer as an artist-in-residence.
Sawdust is the magazine of the SFA Alumni Association and Stephen F. Austin State University