Walk away from clocks. Walk away from calendars. Walk away from companies, taxes, schedules… I Walk Towards Myself is an invitation to briefly leave behind the anxieties of the future, the pains of the past and human-created systems that can mislead us into overlooking the happy fact that we are a part of nature.
“I Walk Towards Myself” is a unique work for 24 piece choir specially created for the ‘iForest’ (Immersive Forest Sound Installation) at the Wild Center in New York state, opening in May 2016. The choir are individually recorded and the recordings are played back over 24 independent audio-speakers dispersed around woodland on the site of the Wild Center. By walking through a specially designed trail. Each speaker carries an individual voice, with the choir subdivided into 3 smaller choirs of 8 voices each which move back and forth across the woodland so that each visitor has their own unique encounter with the work.
The title I Walk Towards Myself refers to my hope that the work might inspire a deeper personal connection to the natural world. Much of the piece is in the Akwesasne (Mohawk) language. This is partly because the Mohawks were direct descendants of earliest human settlers who have been in this region for thousands of years, but mainly I was drawn to their world view: the Akwesasne were and are ‘animists’ who see humans as a part of nature whereas the Europeans who arrived a few hundred years ago are ‘theists’ who believed God gave them dominion over nature. Science tends to agree with the Akwesasne: our DNA is an extraordinarily detailed map that can be traced back 3.5 billion years to a single cell: LUCA, our Last Universal Common Ancestor from which every single living thing on the earth has evolved, the route travelled by the forebears of the Akwesasne can be traced back from East Africa more than 70,000 years ago to the time of the Toba super-volcano eruption which nearly extinguished homo sapiens altogether.
Any loss of connection to nature is a loss of connection to our nature. So, even though I’m a European composer with a very different cultural background, I feel a kinship with the viewpoint of the Akwesasne and have used some of the language found in their Thanksgiving ceremony to create an immersive choral score that can be walked through in the woods at the Wild Center with the hope that that walk deepens the connection of the listener to the natural world that they are already a part of.