A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration

Aldo & Leonardo, a partnership between Colorado Art Ranch and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project is inspired by the scientific wisdom of Aldo Leopold and the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Our endeavor is an interdisciplinary collaboration of artists and scientists designed to celebrate the lands, resources and opportunities protected by the Wilderness Act. In 2013, we are hosting one-month residencies in six diverse wilderness areas. Artists will work alongside wildland research scientists and gain firsthand knowledge of the wonders, complexities and challenges of our nation's wildest places. The result will be a body of work that creatively illustrates the value of wild areas and honors the scientific efforts to preserve wilderness for the next fifty years.

Friday, June 7, 2013



By Esther Rogers

"So I would like to offer you this residency," the voice on the phone said. He was calling from somewhere in the mountains in Colorado, and I was pacing the hallway in the atrium outside Rochester Contemporary School of Music in upstate New York. "WOW! That's so exciting!" was about all I could get out in response. The phone crackled. About to lose reception again...

My name is Esther and I am a free-lance cellist from Rochester, NY.  It's 12:01AM my time, just barely June 8... It's the middle of the week-end, and as a musician that means its the middle of my work week. This particular week-end includes:
-attending incredible performances at the International Society of Bassists being held in Rochester this year
and coachings from guest bass artists on 'Western Lands' for string bass and cello by Stefano Scodanibbio
-teaching cello lessons
-performing in the Rochester Women's Philharmonic fundraiser concert
-leading an arts exploration work-shop for 5-12 year olds
-making a Kinkos print visit for promotional post cards for an upcoming show
It is a running here and there kind of free-lance week-end. Catching up with emails in-between and taking care of a friend's dog.

So how did a classical cellist in Rochester connect with the Aldo and Leonardo project?

It all started with a blind search for residencies about a year and a half ago. I sent an email to the Colorado Art Ranch to inquire and found out that there weren't any openings. Over the winter I received an email asking me to apply for a wilderness and arts collaboration and I couldn't believe it. While I do a lot of traditional gig work, I have a passion for collaboration and response-work. That is, I love to work together with people on projects and to create new artistic work out of that relationship, and I also love to create performance pieces which respond/relate/react to a topic or idea. I also happen to love the outdoors and hiking, so I couldn't believe my eyes! I applied, and now, here I am, carving out some time in my cello world to start to seep in this new project; begin the adventure of new connections, new work, a new environment, to take place in (paradoxically), the Canyon of the Ancients. I'm thrilled! 

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