There are places on the earth like no other. Bryce Canyon, in Utah, USA, is one of those places. Before I visited Bryce I'd never heard of a hoodoo before. Bryce Canyon is filled glorious glowing orange rock hoodoos in the day, pin-pricked by tall pines making a meagre living in the hot dry desert ground, and at night is a wondrous spectacle of glittering stars, easily visible through the clear desert air.
It was also bitterly cold when I was there in October 2011, but well worth the freezing icicles inside the window that we woke up to every morning to look past the ice to the landscape beyond.
I was very much a photography newbie when I was in Bryce Canyon, and it presented a lot of challenges for me. It's the first place I really tackled night photography, braving the dropping temperatures and a real fear of mountain lions to stand on the rim of the canyon and pick out the stars. I still vividly remember the frustration at trying to focus on a tiny star through the viewfinder and playing with settings to get enough light in to be able to see the sleeping hoodoos below. The image below was my only success.
I was approached recently by a classical music student to ask if she could use this image in a slideshow presentation she is doing on Bryce Canyon. I've seen many incredible photos of Bryce Canyon since I was there, but I never realised that it had also inspired classical music.
French composer Olivier Messiaen first saw photos of Bryce Canyon in a book, and visited post-haste to see it with his own eyes in 1972. Unlike me he was an expert in his art and his eyes translated the vast scenery, the glitteringly clear skies, and the rustle of the trees and the whip of the wind and the trill of birdsong into "Des canyons aux etoiles..." - From the canyons to the stars. A twelve movement orchestral work that is still popular today.
The student, Elaine Anderies, will be playing the sixth movement "Appel Interstellaire" from "Des canyons aux etoiles..." on her French horn, with a backdrop of beautiful images of Bryce Canyon. I'm honoured to be a part of it. The recital is open to the public so if you're in the area and wish to immerse yourself in art inspired by Bryce Canyon, the date is Wednesday 27th April at 7:30pm, and the place to be is University of Illinois School of Music (1114 W. Nevada St. Urbana, Illinois 61801. Venue: Music Building Auditorium).