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SFA music professor's compositions inspired by his adventures at national parks

Adventurer-Composer Stephen Lias illustrates in his studio how he composes music inspired by adventures he takes in national parks. (Source: KTRE Staff) Adventurer-Composer Stephen Lias illustrates in his studio how he composes music inspired by adventures he takes in national parks. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Lias has composed over a dozen national park inspired compositions. (Source: KTRE Staff) Lias has composed over a dozen national park inspired compositions. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Stephen Lias’ CD, Encounters, will soon be released in time for the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service. (Source: KTRE Staff) Stephen Lias’ CD, Encounters, will soon be released in time for the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

A composer at Stephen F. Austin State University has found a way to combine his love of music with the outdoors.

Stephen Lias will soon release a CD of new instrumental music inspired by five national parks.

East Texas News visited his studio Monday to find out how the adventures end up as musical notes on paper. Lias calls himself an adventurer-composer. The compositions begin with an immersive adventure in wild places.

“Kayaking, or backpacking or climbing,” Lias said. “Something that challenges my limits."

The vibrant experiences are captured through Lias' diary notes and beautiful photographic images.

“Sometimes I'll sketch ideas while I'm having the adventurer,” Lias said.

In the studio, Lias transforms the field notes into musical notes.

“So you can hear the water flowing and moving,” Lias said as one of his compositions played in the background. “And as the piece gains momentum, hitting boulders, and then the water smooths back out again and we flow on."

Lias has served as artist in residence at five national parks and written over a dozen park-related pieces. In anticipation of the 2016 centennial of the national park service Lias is preparing to release a CD titled “encounters.”

"Mesa Verde National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Big Bend National Park, Denali National Park and Yosemite National Park,” Lias said. “And they range from saxophone music to string orchestra music to percussion music. It's quite a variety of different pieces."

Colleagues at SFA perform the music. They too are inspired.

"Let's go camping!" said Christina Guenther, a flute musician at SFA.

Lias is wanting his national park project to lead to another connection. He's using the funding model, Kickstarter, to help raise dollars to fund the final costs of production.

“We're getting a great response. We're a third of the way funded right now,” Lias said. “We're about a third of the way through our time period."

The Kickstarter campaign runs through February 14th, just a few months before Lias will leave for yet another national park adventure.

Lias' most recent piece was performed by the Boulder Philharmonic" this past September.

The orchestral piece was accompanied with photos synchronized with the music.

For more information on how to order the CD, visit this link. You can also search for “national park” at the Kickstarter Webpage.

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