Sunday, September 20, 2015

La Florida

Giant Swallowtail on Tropical Sage (Salvia coquina)
This July, as my husband and I were neck deep in the middle of our move to Georgia, I happened to run into a friend at the grocery store--fellow nature lover and composer, Zach Neece. We were neighbors but we hadn't seen each other for a while. I got to know Zach when he came to the members of "Audacity", an a cappella group that my husband sang with and asked them to sing a piece that he had arranged. It was amazing! Later I learned that he lived down the street from us, had a native plant garden, and had a long relationship with Morningside Nature Center, where I once worked. We operated in the same circles.

Zach told me that he was working on a project and wanted to know if I would collaborate with him. He had written a piece for strings, inspired by his love for the natural beauty of Florida. He had arranged with conductor Raymond Chobaz and the University of Florida Orchestra to play and record the piece and was wondering if he could use some of my Florida nature photos to illustrate his video, "La Florida". The project would also include beautiful landscape photography by Larry Reimer, a retired minister from United Church of Gainesville, someone I do not know personally but respect very much as a long-time, outstanding community member. In light of the many environmental challenges facing Florida's natural areas--springs, parks and undeveloped land, as well as celebrating the 500th anniversary of the first Europeans in Florida, this would be an especially timely and meaningful work and I was honored to be asked to take part. This was a no brainer for me. Of course, I said yes!

Every artist expresses their feelings in a unique way. Some people paint, others write poetry or dance, and some, like Zach, use music. I express myself very literally, using words and photography, but I love and appreciate an artist's ability to turn those emotions into an abstract form. From the first time I heard Zach's composition, I was overwhelmed by the beauty welling up from the rich strings, rising and falling, feeling the sweet optimism and grand spaces, but with a sense of sadness, too. And when I watched the finished version of the video, the beautiful music joined with scenes from the places I know and love, I felt a lump in my throat and tears filled my eyes. I ached for the beauty of those unspoiled places and wanted with all my heart to keep them safe.

Please enjoy and share this magnificent work.