Keane Southard's 'An Appalachian Trail Symphony' Brings Listeners Along For The Hike

May 18, 2018

Keane Southard spent many of his childhood weekends hiking and camping with his family in New Hampshire and Vermont. From that early age, he imagined one day he would hike the legendary Appalachian Trail.

Southard went on to study composition and theory, and all the while, the idea of hiking the trail and composing a piece about the experience percolated in his mind.

In April, Southard completed "An Appalachian Trail Symphony: New England (Symphony No. 1)", inspired by his 66-day, 734-mile hike of the New England portion of the trail.

"I entered the trip knowing I was gonna write this piece afterwards, but kind of having a blank slate to start off, and to have the music and the ideas come out of my experience," Southard said.

Listen to the audio above to hear excerpts of Southard's interview and symphony.

In this podcast, learn about Southard's familial ties to music and composing, as well as how he transformed the trail sounds of footsteps, buzzing bugs and bird songs that he heard along the way into this composition for orchestra.

"Am I part of a long line of composers using nature as their muse? Yeah, I'd consider myself in that line," Southard said. "And particularly, I'm really inspired by New England. I grew up in Massachusetts, and my parents took me and my siblings on so many trips up to New Hampshire and Vermont.

"And it wasn't until leaving New England and going off to school that I realized how much this region is ingrained in me and how much I love it."

The Sage City Symphony will perform Southard's "An Appalachian Trail Symphony" on Sunday at 4 p.m., in Greenwall Auditorium on the Bennington College campus. The concert is free and open to the public.