Composer Scott L. Miller announces the premiere of “The Blue in the Distance”, a 360º Virtual Reality film presented with live music he composed, setting the poem of the same name by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen.
The VR concert will be performed by Zeitgeist at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Ruth Gant Recital Hall with a reading by Sutphen. Admission is free.
The event features soprano Tracey Engleman and Zeitgeist, a new music ensemble based in St. Paul, performing in Miller’s sonically immersive, classical ambient style. The film, created by Miller, explores Quarry Park Reserve in Waite Park. The program will also include a poetry reading by Joyce Sutphen, including new work from her book “Carrying Water to the Field”.
Audience members will be provided with Virtual Reality headsets to watch the immersive 360º film version while Zeitgeist performs the music live. Audience members who arrive after all headsets have been distributed (or who are uncomfortable wearing a headset) can watch a 2D version of the film projected on a screen in the hall. The composition and Zeitgeist instrumentation will be for soprano, clarinet/bass clarinet, percussion, piano and electronic sound.
“I wanted to create a new VR concert work based on an inspiring natural Minnesota location for my longtime friends and collaborators here to perform. I chose the Quarry Park Reserve in Waite Park as the location and began filming there in April 2018, in the days following the blizzard that month. I felt it important to add a narrative element to the film and set about looking for poetry that resonated with the project, ideally by a Minnesotan and about Central Minnesota,” Miller said.
“While filming in the spring, I read a lot of poetry and ultimately came across the work of Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen. Joyce grew up in St. Joseph, not far from Quarry Park (it was just a closed granite quarry then), and her work frequently evokes imagery and aspects of life in Minnesota that resonate with me. The Blue in the Distance perfectly captures the natural setting of Quarry Park, and provides a perfect structure for me to organize the film and music around.” Miller said.
Miller has collaborated with Zeitgeist as a composer, performer and producer of their recordings since 2003. He created his first VR concert work, Raba, with Tallinn-based Ensemble U:, VR film-maker Rein Zobel and the St. Cloud State Visualization and Simulation Lab in 2017. Raba was created in response to a visit to the Marimetsa Raba, an enormous bog in Estonia.
“The Blue in the Distance” was created and presented with the support of Mark Gill, director of the St. Cloud State Visualization and Simulation Labs, film editing and production assistance was from Kyle Yotter and Jack Wald.
Additional support was provided in part from:
- The St. Cloud State Department of Music
- MN NICE – The Minnesota (State) Networked Immersive Collaborative Experience,
- and the Minnesota State Innovation Funding Program
- The American Composers Forum through the 2018 McKnight Composer Fellowship Program.
MMiller is a 2018 McKnight Composition Fellow and a professor of music at St. Cloud State University, where he teaches composition, electroacoustic music and theory.