Padre Island National Seashore

The Padre Island National Seashore is a wildlife preverse maintained by the national park system that stretches for more than 50 miles down the coast of Texas. Home to a diverse array of wildlife, including five species of sea turtles.

In March of 2020, I was able to spend a week camping near malaquite beach while carrying out field recordings across the park. The repetitive waves formed an aural backdrop to the sounds of birds and animals that resonated through the park. More than anything, I was struck by the bast flat expanses of the island as it seemed to stretch forward forever.

The principal work resulting from the residency was a work for Solo Clarinet in A titled Slivers Wavering Into Horizons.

Program note from the piece:

On the eastern edge of Texas there are stretches of barrier islands separating the mainland from the gulf of Mexico. One of those is Padre Island, with more than 60 miles designated as a national seashore reserved for preservation. On the western edge of the island, the Laguna Madre stretches southward—one of only six hyper-saline lakes in the world and home to the intercostal waterway. The island itself is a diverse conglomeration of biomes with rolling sand dunes, grasslands, and ephemeral ponds all in close proximity. But wherever you are on the island, you can’t escape the sound of the ocean waves battering Malaquite Beach. Each wave crests on top of another, and as they recede the bubbles crackle and spit in a high-pitched chatter. The laughing gull above sounds its unending cackle. The deeper you look on the island, the more there is to discover, with interlocking sounds weaving a sonic patchwork that follows you long after you’ve left.

The island is even more than its beaches—with multiple other ecosystems including the graslands with its ephemeral ponds and gopher hills; and the Laguna Madre, one of the only hyper-saline lagoons in the world.

Much of my time on the Island was spent in remote places on the island. I made long ambient recordings which eventually were included in the Fixed Media piece Reflection of a Sea Bean (incldued here). Sea Beans can be found across Padre Island thanks to its unique placement at the confluence mutliple currents in the Gulf of Mexico. This meeting of currents also contributes the abundance of detritus that washes up on the island's shores every year.

I’m so thankful to the park for allowing me to come and work at Padre Island, and I look forward to when I will be able to return.