Avenue of the Giants

Premiered April 16th, 2023

Dayton, OH


Avenue of the Giants is a piece about our family trip to see the California Redwood Forest in 2021. Lined by titan trees, the 31-mile Avenue parallels Highway 101 and has been called the finest forest drive in the world. After pulling off the avenue and exploring, we learned about the ecosystem specific to the Redwoods. This work explores the various cycles of life, destruction, and renewal that exist within the grandeur of these majestic trees and the feelings experienced when among them.

The first movement, “Relic Redwoods”, is about our first moments in the trees – walking into the Founder’s Grove and just being overcome by their size and beauty.

The second movement, “In the Crowns”, is a playful romp capturing the antics of the flying squirrels, red tree voles, and marbled murrelets living high up in the forest canopy and who are rarely seen below.

The third movement, “In the Shifting Silence” is based on a walk we took in the far less-populated Rockefeller Grove nearby. In a video taken by husband Ben Fingland, the silence and gentle breezes were palpable and magical even when watching the video again several years later.

This flows into the last movement, “Dyerville Giant”, which is a musical retelling of the story of one of the largest trees in the Redwoods – measuring 200 feet taller than Niagara Falls, and 17 feet wide. In 1991, the ground surrounding it became too saturated because of the rainy season, causing several trees to fall and lean upon each other, eventually causing this particular tree to fall all the way to the ground. Though it is sad when a tree falls, it immediately becomes a “nurse log” and a host, home, and food source to over 4000 species of plants and animals that will live on or in it for many years to come. While it decays, it becomes recycled within the living forest, wasting nothing.

I have always found much solace in nature, and I can’t imagine life without visiting the ocean or being among trees on a regular basis. They are alive, they know things, and they can whisper their secrets to us when we really take the time to be present and truly…listen.

Thank you Richard Bayles and the Dorian Wind Quintet for commissioning this work.rocess all that was going on, and I thank the Silver Spruce Trio for the opportunity.