The Living Earth Show: “Raven Chacon’s ‘Tremble Staves’”
This performance begins in the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove in the UC Davis Arboretum.
- Google map link to the beginning point.
- Free, tickets are not necessary.
- Parking is free on the weekends.
- Please note that this event takes place outdoors and features loud music at times.
- Seating is not provided and audience members will need to walk to each location (each movement is in a different area in the arboretum).
- Not available to view via livestream.
About the Work
Tremble Staves was written by Diné (Navajo) Raven Chacon and first performed in 2019. It is a site-specific work to be performed on public lands, and in UC Davis’s case in the Arboretum. The multi-movement work will start at the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove and finish at the Native American Contemplative Garden, and will at times use water itself as a dynamic musical instrument. The piece connects narratives of Northern California’s complicated relationship with water—usage, access, and rights to name a few—to Navajo creation (origin) stories in which water figures prominently. Members of the UC Davis Percussion Ensemble, Guitar Studio, and the Graduate Student Ensemble will participate, and new narrative text is being written by Wendah Alvarez and Sarah Biscarra Dilley, who are both Ph.D. candidates in Native American Studies at UC Davis, as well as Nora Zade, an undergraduate student pursuing degrees in psychology and Native American studies at UC Davis. These same students will narrate during the performance.
Raven (the composer) writes of the piece that it is “[n]ot a work to bring awareness, but a proposition for imagining when we are already gone.” Among the instruments called for in the score are a quarter-tone guitar, bathroom sink, floating cello, dowsing rods, bird calls, amplified tile, stirred broken mirrors, amplified fishing rod, feedback ukulele, and an oxygen tank. Consisting of six movements—Estuary, Tributary, Delta (featuring student guitarists), Channel, Distributary (featuring student percussionists), and Sound—the piece will last approximately 90 minutes. Costumes and regalia are designed and produced by Rashad Pridgen.
The Living Earth Show (aka TLES, is guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson) is a megaphone and canvas for some of the world’s most progressive artists. They are artists in residence at UC Davis for three significant projects in 2022 at UC Davis: “Music for Hard Times” (March 10), “Tremble Staves” (March 12), and “Affirmative Action” (May 5). The duet was listed in a recent write-up by the Washington Post in its “22 for ’22: Composers and performers to watch this year.”
Called “outstanding” by the San Francisco Chronicle, “transcendent” by the Charleston City Paper, and “a fully distorted perpetual motion of awesome” by I Care If You Listen, TLES is a premiere contemporary chamber arts ensemble in the United States. TLES received the grand prize in the SAVVY Chamber Arts Competition and runner-up in the open division of the M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, and has commissioned and premiered over 60 new works by some of the most vital composers in the world. They have released three critically acclaimed albums, and have performed, lectured, and given masterclasses throughout the country.
Originally from the Navajo Nation, Raven Chacon is a composer of chamber music, a performer of experimental noise music, and an installation artist. Chacon’s work explores sounds of acoustic handmade instruments overdriven through electric systems. As an educator, Chacon has served as composer-in-residence for the Native American Composer Apprentice Project, teaching string quartet composition to hundreds of American Indian high-school students living on reservations in the Southwest U.S. His work has been presented at the Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, REDCAT, the Kennedy Center, and the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival.