kingsbury branch

Beginning at the Robinson Sawmill in Calais, Vermont, this piece for clarinet, trombone, viola, contrabass, and digital playback follows 8 miles of the Kingsbury Branch watershed, and derives its musical materials from new and archival field recordings made at a series of local sites.

In dialogue with the sound of a millpond dam, a church bell, invasive Japanese knotweed, archival folk songs, and haunted rafters, each movement surfaces a different way that settler-colonial history is etched into rural soundscapes and inscribed into narratives of place. The score of the piece is a 95-page hybrid text that weaves local history, hand-traced images, decolonial theory, and process notes into the notated music.

The intention is for audience members to read the text and listen to the piece simultaneously, to allow the soundscape to provide an immersive space for unsettling listening practices and reflecting upon the production of space.

The piece was premiered by TURNmusic on July 10, 2021 in the Goddard College gardens, the final site in this sonic journey. Before the premiere, we recorded the piece in the haunted garden house that is featured in the final movement of the work. The premiere was followed by a community conversation about the contested histories of place in Vermont.

A recording of the full piece by TURNmusic

This piece is funded in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts through the Vermont Creation Grant.

An interview with Desmond Peeples of the Vermont Arts Council about the ideas behind this piece can be found here.