Stephen Vincent Casellas's one goal as a composer is both a simple one and an ambitious one: inspire a positive change in the world. In the past, he has composed music that brings to light discussions of mental health, the environment, and more. More recently, his eclectic repertoire of music seeks to blur genre and combines elements of experimentation with traditionalism.
River of Grass is a work that is dear to my heart and one that I believe is important for the world, given the current state of environmental affairs. I won't go deep into the program notes since they are found in the perusal score here. Instead, I hope to elaborate with some background.
I grew up in Southeast Florida, and have always enjoyed my visits to the Everglades National Park. Airboat rides are so much fun, and hikes along the bridges across the river of grass are especially calming. There are no other ecosystems like it anywhere else in the world.
Yet, it is 2019 and I just completed my THIRD work based on the same exact subject matter of "River of Grass". Three years after I completed that composition (two since the premiere). It sickens me that we in South Florida are STILL fighting battles against corporate interests seeking to frack in our backyards. Too much of this state is made of limestone, ready to implode into a sinkhole at any given moment.
My goal with River of Grass and the two other pieces inspired by the Everglades and the fight against big oil (The Eyes...Always Upon It and Oil Spill) as a composer and a human being are to inspire action from audiences who might be moved by my work. As exhausting as politics is, part of our jobs as artists are to inspire the masses through the connection created from our work, and I hope that River of Grass can achieve this if only for just one person listening.
I hope you enjoy!