Tryon River Trail gets soundtrack courtesy of P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra

Members of the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra provided a soundtrack for the Tryon River Trail on Sunday.

Musicians played music inspired by nature and the land at 8 locations on the trail

Some members of the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra and local musicians took their instruments outdoors on Sunday, adding to the natural soundtrack of the Tryon River Trail. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Songbirds on the Tryon River Trail in P.E.I. received accompaniment from local musicians on Sunday. 

People walking the trail were treated to eight soundtracks played by P.E.I. musicians.

The event, called Tuning in to Nature, was organized by Island Nature Trust and the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra.  

The focus was "music and art that's been inspired by the world that we live in, by the natural world," said Ryan Drew, educational outreach co-ordinator and one of the organizers with the P.E.I. Symphony Orchestra, before the event.

"So really, it's quite an organic blend in my mind."

The performances overlapped, which Drew said created a space that was "almost more of an installation than a concert in that way." 

The musicians chose what they played and each stop featured different styles of music.

"We've been asking our musicians … to prepare music and other forms of musical art that respond to, reflect upon or interact with the natural world in some way or another," said Drew. 

Some of the music was inspired by the history of the area where it was being performed. 

The eight performers ranged from a harpist and a trombonist to Mi'kmaq drummers. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"There's a lot of stylistic and cultural diversity in what we have going on," said Drew. "The land has a rich history of Mi'kmaq presence. Early on there's an Acadian presence, and looking at the way that this land has shaped over the last many, many years, we're looking to have kind of stylistic musical genres that reflect on that history."

That was an important element for the orchestra and Island Nature Trust to include in the event. 

Ryan Drew, one of the organizers of the Tuning in to Nature event, says he hopes the event helped Islanders connect in their own way to the land. (Submitted by Ryan Drew)

"This area is a little different than many of our other natural areas in that it has a pretty large cultural significance, as well as the land conservation, natural significance of the site," said Megan Harris, executive director of Island Nature Trust.

"The Tryon River salt marsh is a beautiful location that was incredibly important to both the Mi'kmaq and the Acadian settlers. And ... one of the oldest artifacts ever found in P.E.I. was found not too far away from here."

The orchestra wanted it to be a more inclusive and expressive event, said Drew. 

"This is really an opportunity for Islanders to connect with their home on a much maybe deeper level, gaining a bit better of a cultural and historical understanding of the land."

In response to COVID-19

It's the first time the orchestra has held this type of event. It's partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"People have been deprived of both performing and also being able to experience music in any capacity in a live setting," said Drew. "So this has been something that not only do we get to experience this once more in a safe way, but we also get to connect Islanders with, kind of, the natural beauty of the land as well."

The musicians adhered to all public health precautions, said Drew. 

Megan Harris, executive director of Island Nature Trust, wanted the event to remind people how important nature and music are for spiritual and mental wellbeing. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

For the musicians, Drew said he hopes it gave them the ability to express themselves in a new way.

For Harris, she hopes people took away the impact that nature and music can have on individuals.

"I hope that they see that natural areas are another piece that are is incredibly important for our our spiritual and mental well-being," she said.

"As is music. And the two are naturally aligned in that way. And I think as we have gone through this pandemic, more people are recognizing that they need to get outdoors, they need to hear those cultural elements that make the Maritimes what it is. And I hope that they are making those connections as they go away from today."

The idea came from work that Drew has been doing on the crossroads between music and nature, and how they inspire each other. 

"This was a really, really cool, practical way to be able to apply that kind of theory in a real event and to be able to kind of have those two larger themes engage with one another," he said.

The event was a fundraiser for both Island Nature Trust and the orchestra.

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