Facing Fire is an exhibition that explores western wildfires as omen and elemental force, as metaphor and searing personal experience. Fire tends to spread. So, too, does the meaning of fire. Sixteen artists bring us photographs, paintings, drawings, ceramic, and video as they face fire, sift its aftermath, and struggle with the implications. UCR ARTS is collaborating UCR’s Department of Music to present original compositions created by students and faculty around artworks found in the exhibition.

The faculty and student composers in the UCR Music Department work in a variety of media drawn from influences that range from hip-hop to experimental electronic music. The approaches for each piece within the Facing Fire project are highly individualized. Some works are fully scored compositions for classical instruments, others use external source material and text taken from other mediums, such as video game soundtracks and news reports. Their compositions are a testament to the importance of expressing one’s creative impulses during times of uncertainty and isolation.

About the composer/composition:

The music for this photo was written by Jason Tse, a third year Music (Composition track) and Education (Community Leadership, Social Justice, and Policy track) double major. Prior to this piece, Jason has written pieces for various small ensembles including saxophone quartet, piano trio, string quartet, and piano-violin duo, as well as written a micro-opera, ukulele folk EP, and scored soundtracks for the Theatre, Film, and Digital Production Department. The music places the listener into the wilderness just before the start of the Kincade fire, with a quiet evening and the chirping of a cricket. The peace is suddenly interrupted by the sound of a transmission line failing, the reported cause of the Kincade fire. Over the sound of low strings are the sounds of the Kincade fire documented in Sonoma County. A fuse can be heard across the piece, panning between left and right to represent the impending fire dividing the burnt, ashen land and the threatened wilderness.

Image: Noah Berger, Kincade Fire, Dye sublimation print on aluminum, 2019, Courtesy of the artist and Associated Press