Mannheim Steamroller Celebrates Glacier National Park in New CD

Renewal is constantly under way in the national parks. One of the best examples was how quickly the forests of Yellowstone National Park rebounded from the sweeping wildfires of 1988. To celebrate that event, Chip Davis, the man behind Mannheim Steamroller, produced a CD of music as a "tribute towards renewal of the life at Yellowstone."

Mr. Davis recently returned to the recording studio with another park imprinted in his mind and came up with True Wilderness, a Glacier National Park Celebration. Inspired both by the park's centennial in 2010 and a visit he made to the park about a year ago, the 14-track CD pulls both from the park's natural side -- birds calling are captured on a number of tracks -- as well as the various moods Glacier displays.

In Mist the composer (backed by the London Symphony Orchestra) seems to draw on the immenseness of Glacier National Park to create a subtle, yet moving piano piece that can be interpreted as a reflection on how small human visitors are on this scale of landscape.

That Mr. Davis connected with that scale no doubt was due, in part, to where he stayed -- in the Many Glacier Lodge on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake with a view of Grinnell Point.

"The giant rock, screaming into the clouds across the lake from my lakeside-view room with snow on it this September 17th of 2010 is both beautiful and intimidating," he tells us in his liner notes. "It looks like something out of a prehistoric sci-fi movie, where the earth breaks open and with a giant rumble ... shaking, vapors, gases, terrifying sounds .. a magnificent natural work is created."

Glacier's spectacular dark skies inspired The 7 Stars of the Big Dipper, as well as Dancin' in the Stars, while the many birds that flit through the park's forests led to Green Lace, a composition that, naturally, draws musical backing from singing birds and the park's tumbling streams. Trees also contributed -- winds rustling through aspen glades appear in Blowing Leaves, a tribute to autumn.

As with his previous albums, Mr. Davis draws at times on synthesizers to accompany the many strings, cascading horns, kettle drums, and nature that he builds his compositions around.

Interesting in part due to its placement on the album -- it's the first cut -- is A Glacier Celebration, which Mr. Davis tells us in the liner notes is in honor of not only Glacier National Park, but all the national parks.

"I wanted the music of True Wilderness to transport the listeners to the wonders of Glacier National Park -- and encourage all of us to commit to the preservation of this beloved sanctuary, our National Park System, and our entire world," the composer told the Great Falls Tribune.

To show his support of the park system, and Glacier specifically, Mr. Davis is donating a portion of each sale to the Glacier National Park Fund "to support the preservation and heritage of Glacier National Park."

Comments

I remember when we first moved to Lincoln, Nebraska in 1986 everyone was always talking about Mannheim Steamroller, based out of Omaha. I remember going to their concert in December 1989 in Omaha with some friends, it was like the Midwest's special little secret. Not long after, they became world famous! I LOVE their music and Glacier is my favorite NP in the system, so it goes without saying that we will be getting this one as well!

Will this be on itunes?

I just received my CD and it's somewhat misleading. He has numerous songs from other CD's on here as well. I was under the impression it was all new work.

Kurt, I didn't mean YOU were misleading in the article. I meant that the CD cover was misleading!

The article is a bit misleading, unfortunately. It talks about how Chip found inspiration from his stay at the national park, but the truth is that this is just another collection of rehashed songs from previous Mannheim albums and the Ambience series. I think there are only two new songs. I really wish Chip WOULD find the inspiration to go into the studio and write a brand new album, but he seems content to just keep repackaging his old stuff in the hopes of tricking people into spending money on it.