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."