California Suite is an “endangered birdsong partita.” Each movement is inspired by a Baroque dance and takes its melodies from the song or call of a bird on California’s Endangered and Threatened Animals List at the time of writing. The natural sounds of California course through this work, much in the same way that the French musical style of Bach’s day coursed through his French Suites.
California has been my lifelong home. As a Boy Scout I experienced the diversity of California’s wilderness firsthand, camping in such locations as Death Valley, Yosemite, and Catalina Island. As climate change grows worse, I find myself repeating the Boy Scout mantra to “leave things better than you found them.” These words serve as a guiding principle not only in environmental efforts, but also in artistic ones, for it is all at the service of humanity.
I implore those who listen to this work to earnestly reflect on the environmental sustainability of their daily activities, or to make a donation—however large or small—to an organization that promotes sustainability. Just as these four birds and their beautiful music are threatened by an increasingly inhospitable environment, so too will humans—whether residing in California or elsewhere—face existential consequences unless we prioritize our ecosystem.