a small band performing on a stage with a green backdrop a small band performing on a stage with a green backdrop

Beautiful Music, Inspiring Message: Our Earth Day Performances

By Thomas Warner, on

Longwood Gardens and holidays go hand-in-hand, from the grandeur of our displays during the Christmas season to the eye-popping Fireworks and Fountain Shows celebrating our country’s independence. And while Earth Day (April 22) is not really thought of as a “holiday,” it holds special significance for those of us who work here.

Hoping to share that special significance with our guests, the Performing Arts team at Longwood set out to find, and discovered, a number of artists with established programs or a willingness to create a program that related to the focus of Earth Day: celebrating the unique qualities of our environment and exploring how we can all support its protection.

The performing arts side of Longwood’s mission, paired with an insightful look at nature’s beauty and its surrounding environment … a match made in heaven? We thought so … and we got to work. We reached out to three artists, asking them to share their beautiful, meaningful music and spoken word with us in a series of events in April. Luckily, they all accepted our invitation.

First up for our Earth Day performance series is Selected Shorts, an organization based in New York City that creates radio programs heard nationwide. These programs typically have three professional actors reading carefully selected stories on a theme. We asked them to return to Longwood, having first been here in 2016, with an evening of stories having to do with the beauty of gardens and their environments. On Saturday, April 6 at 8:00 pm, Golden Globe winner Jill Eikenberry, Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-nominated Michael Tucker, and Tony Award-nominated Zach Grenier will do just that, performing beautiful works written by W.P. Kinsella, John Muir, Mary Oliver, and Jane Yolen.

headshots of three people

Actors Jill Eikenberry, Michael Tucker, and Zach Grenier share stories of beauty and inspiration on Saturday, April 6.

Next up on Thursday, April 18 at 8:00 pm is The Crossroads Project: Rising Tide, a program put together by the Fry Street Quartet and climate physicist Dr. Robert Davies. This unique concert features the music of Franz Josef Haydn, Leos Janacek, and the four original movements of Rising Tide, composed for this project by award-winning composer Laura Kaminsky.

a small band performing on a stage with a green backdrop

The Fry Street Quartet and climate physicist Dr. Robert Davies deliver a multi-sensory experience Thursday, April 18.

Projected over the stage to accompany the music and Dr. Davies’ narration will be images by noted painter and garden enthusiast Rebecca Allan, and renowned environmental photographer Garth Lenz. And the icing on the cake will be the unique concert setting that is like none other … our gorgeous Exhibition Hall.

The last in this trio of performances selected to highlight Earth Day is ETHEL & Robert Mirabal: The River, set for Tuesday, April 23 at 8:00 pm.

a musical group posing in front of trees

ETHEL & Robert Mirabal create an immersive flow of music and narrative on Tuesday, April 23.

This collaborative effort with string quartet ETHEL and Grammy Award-winning instrumentalist Robert Mirabal draws from ETHEL’s reputation as one of America’s most adventurous string quartets that plays like a rock band, and Mirabal’s position as Native America’s most dynamic and best-selling artist. Together they have created a program inspired by water as the embodiment of spirit and its essential role in life on Earth.

We’re excited to present this happy confluence of programs surrounding Earth Day that marry music, storytelling, and imagery with insightful messages and science. These programs not only focus on the beauty of the world and its constant challenges but take place in the unique setting that is Longwood Gardens. Join us.

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