Korff School graduate student to capture Alaskan wilderness through music
calendar icon08 May 2023
Lincoln, Neb.--Trevor Frost, a second-year DMA student in wind band conducting with a related area in composition, has been accepted into the “Composing in the Wilderness” program in Alaska this June, where he will experience the inspiring backcountry of Lake Clark National Park and then compose a new band work to be performed around the country.
“My first reaction was pure excitement and disbelief. I’ve always loved being in nature and connecting my spirit to the earth,” Frost said. “Creating a wind band piece, my favorite ensemble to write for, inspired by the Alaskan wilderness, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait to witness the beauty Alaska has to hold and express it through my music.”
Now in its 11th year, the unique “Composing in the Wilderness” program is led by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias and offered by the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in collaboration with Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service.
Twenty-three composers applied, and only six were selected through a rigorous selection process, including Frost.
“We never know what to expect,” said Lias, who has been leading the project since 2012. “Alaska always has surprises in store for us, and it teaches all the participants both how inspiring the natural world is, but also how small we are in comparison. The final works tend to be highly diverse and compelling and have focused on everything from the graceful movements of the caribou to the slow shifting of tectonic plates and glaciers. I can’t wait to see what our 2023 participants create.”
The six composers will spend 10 days in the backcountry of Alaska, and then use that inspiration to compose new works for wind ensemble that will be premiered in 2024 by three university wind ensembles, including the Glenn Korff School of Music’s Wind Ensemble, as well as the Stephen F. Austin Wind Ensemble (Texas) and the Grand Valley State University Wind Symphony (Michigan).
“I jumped on board the Composing the Wilderness project first with the Wind Ensemble,” said Carolyn Barber, the Ron and Carol Cope Professor of Music, Director of Bands and director of the Wind Ensemble. “The organizers, Stephen Lias and Tamey Anglley, sent out a call for ensembles, and it was a great pitch. A complete program of brand new music for free. My first thought was that, given the renovaton of Kimball and construction of the new Westbrook, the bands would be ‘in the wilderness’ for a few years without a regular performance venue. The due dates for the compositions is right about the time we will be returning to Kimball. It’s an excellent opportunity to celebrate our return ‘home’ with new music.”
The composers will be transported by bush planes into the remote and stunning wilderness of Lake Clark National Park, where they will camp, hike and paddle, while drawing inspiration from the wildlife, geology, scenery and dangers of their surroundings. They will then spend three days in a secluded retreat, where they will begin composing their pieces.
Frost first heard about the opportunity at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago in December 2021, where he attended as an exhibitor to recruit for the Glenn Korff School of Music.
“There were opportunities for me to check out the exhibit halls and see everything. While I was walking, the ‘Composing the Wilderness’ booth caught my eye,” Frost said. “Stephen Lias, the founder, was talking to me about the program, and I was fascinated by it.”
Originally from Milford, New Hampshire, Frost has always felt connected to nature and said his family regularly camped on Cape Cod every year.
“We would have a campfire every night, explore the sandy beaches along the coast, and ride our bikes along the canal,” Frost said. Sleeping outside in the cool night watching the stars above me was pure bliss. It was my own little sanctuary.”
He also lived just 20 minutes away from the ocean.
“Whenever I felt like I needed to get away, I would drive to the beach and lie in the sand watching the waves crash on the shore feeling the cool, ocean breeze,” he said.
He also hiked at Presidential Mountain Range.
“My friends and I would go on hiking adventures and have lunch on top of Mount Monadnock and take in the fresh air and watch the green landscape all around us,” he said.
Despite these opportunities to escape, Frost said he became depressed in 2019, which only became worse during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I turned towards meditation and have been practicing meditation every since,” he said. “It has been a powerful and uplifting practice for me and has helped me crawl out of some dark places. It wasn’t until I started meditating outside when the weather was warmer that I truly felt connected with the Earth, and that my mind, body and spirit felt free.”
When he returns from Alaska, Frost will have about six months to finish his wind ensemble piece and will turn in the completed work around Jan. 1, 2024.
“The works will be premiered in the spring 2024 semester or the fall 2024 semester,” he said. “I hope it will be in the spring because I graduate next year. Not only will the Wind Ensemble here at UNL be premiering it, but the Stephen F. Austin University Wind Ensemble and The Grand Valley State University Wind Symphony will be as well.”
Barber said having a UNL composer in the mix will only enhance the experience for the Wind Ensemble.
“I am familiar with his compositions, and the project seemed like a great fit for him,” she said. “Having a Husker in the mix is a special bonus, although we would be part of it even if he had not been selected. He earned a spot fair and square, and I’m proud of him. As one of the ensemble directors for the project, I already know what Trevor’s assignment will be. I can’t divulge that, of course, but I am confident he will do an excellent job. It will be fun having a person on the ‘inside’ of the composition side of the project. That will really enrich the Wind Ensemble’s experience when we start prepping the program.”
Frost is looking forward to this experience.
“I hope to gain new friends, colleagues and fellow composers that I can collaborate with in the future,” he said. “Not only am I a composer, but I am also a conductor, and I love premiering new works and performing works from rising composers. I also will gain a once-in-a-lifetime experience to live in Lake Clark National Park, one of the most remote locations in the world. I can’t wait to be a part of the nature and all her wonder she has to offer.”
Frost has been composing for more than 10 years, and his works have been performed by the University of New Hampshire Wind Ensemble, New Hampshire Youth Band, Keene State Concert Choir, and multiple high school concert bands.
His music can be found on his SoundCloud and is published by C. Alan Publications and Trevor Frost Music. For more information on Frost, visit his website at www.trevorfrostmusic.com.