Artist and audience sing along with the forest

Last year, musician Byron Au Yong, ’96, developed his performing arts project “Forest Aeternam” while in residence as an artist at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Surrounded by 175 acres of woodland terrain, Au Yong was dazzled by the life cycle of the forest around him. His composition reflects on ecological crisis and affirms a commitment to living with nature and honoring woodland areas during a time of environmental emergency.

Au Yong returned to Bloedel this fall for an outdoor, participatory research event with soprano Eun Ju Vivanna Oh, ’20, whom he met in University of Washington music theory classes when they were undergraduates.

During the performance, audience members walked through the forest listening and singing with trees, engaging in a contemplative musical practice designed to strengthen their bond with the environment.

Au Yong hopes to bring “Forest Aeternam” to other forested areas where it can be performed with singers, instrumentalists, and Indigenous and immigrant populations. Known for creating works that engage with social issues, Au Yong recently returned to his hometown of Seattle to head the Arts Leadership programs at Seattle University.