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Robert is a composer living in Boston, MA. He co-founded the Sleeping Giant composer collective and co-directs the Times Two Series. Send me emails at rhonstein@gmail.com !

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Events Calendar

  • Sa 6.3.17: Arctic @ AMF
  • Su 6.4.17: Requiem @ DPO
  • We 6.14.17: DDB @ Geneva
  • Fr 6.23.17: WAYNA @ HERE
  • Sa 6.24.17: WAYNA @ HERE
  • Su 6.25.17: WAYNA @ HERE
  • Su 6.3.18: Night Scenes @ DPO
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This is Not Mother Nature

Orchestra (2222.2200.3 perc.hrp.pno.strings) – 10 minutes

USDA Photo of Missouri River Flooding 2011

USDA Photo of Missouri River Flooding 2011

Early in the summer of 2011 I visited Westport, New York, a small town on the shores of Lake Champlain. Due to record snow fall and an unusually rainy spring, the lake had risen to a height not seen for generations. The result was the destruction and flooding of many homes and businesses along the lake. Rather than hiking and swimming I spent the weekend tearing down rotten, mold-filled walls of a friend’s lakeside restaurant, helping them get back on their feet after weeks of being closed.

In July I travelled to Nebraska City, Nebraska for a month long residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. I was stunned during my approach to Omaha’s airport when I saw the crested Missouri river stretching for miles in all directions. The submerged buildings, the interstate’s giant clover interchanges poking through muddy water, and the rows of sandbags surrounding the tarmac, barely holding back the surging river from the airfield, were surreal.

Floods, unlike other natural disasters, do not simply end. They linger for months at a time. The water slowly recedes as helpless residents patiently wait to see what is left of their property. These disasters are both natural and man- made. The Missouri River flood, however, was significantly more man-made than not. Like upstate New York, the winter in Nebraska brought record snowfall. Melting snow combined with heavy spring rains led to overfilled reservoirs. Responding to the crisis the Army Corps of Engineers began a series of planned releases, initiating the massive downstream flooding. I came across a youtube video of an Iowan farmer flying above his land, surveying what was left of his submerged crops. He repeated to the camera, “This is not mother nature…This is not mother nature.”

This piece was commissioned by Hunter College for Reuben Blundell and the Hunter Symphony. I am also greatful to the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center and the I-Park Foundation for providing the time and space to create this work. The work will be premiered at a March 2012 performance. For now, you can check out a computer mock-up right here:

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Premiered 3.21.12 at Hunter College, New York, NY.