An artistic journey to the White Mountains

Writer Howard Mansfield and composer Ben Cosgrove will be performing “A Journey to the White Mountains in Words and Music” at the Capitol Center for the Arts on April 14, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $24 and are available online at ccanh.com.

The show is about how the discovery of the White Mountains affects us to this day.

“Pioneering artists in the 19th Century taught Americans how to look at the wilderness,” said Mansfield. “Americans were eager for the lesson, and, with guidebook in hand telling them where to see the views in the famous paintings, they followed the artists. Their art created a market for the views, filled hotels with tourists, and laid the bounds for national parks across the country. Today’s tourists to the White Mountains may not know it, but they’ve come in search of an Eden created by a legion of nineteenth-century landscape painters.”

“The Journey to the White Mountains” show is based on a chapter from Howard Mansfield’s recent book Chasing Eden: A Book of Seekers (Bauhan Publishing, 2021) and Ben Cosgrove’s landscape-inspired music.

Mansfield and Cosgrove have been following each other’s work for years.

“When I first heard Ben Cosgrove’s music, it made immediate, emotional sense. In his music I hear the restlessness of America and the broad reach of the country,” said Mansfield.

“I’ve been reading Howard Mansfield’s books for years, some of them over and over,” said Cosgrove. “He’s able to write about local history and sense of place in a thoughtful, conversational way that somehow feels both deeply personal and ringingly universal.”

Realizing that they each had been exploring very similar themes and questions, they decided to combine words and music for a joint performance.

Howard Mansfield writes about history, architecture, and preservation. He sifts through the commonplace and the forgotten to discover stories that tell us about ourselves and our place in the world. Mansfield is the author of a dozen books, including Chasing Eden, The Bones of the Earth, The Same Ax, Twice, Dwelling in Possibility: Searching for the Soul of Shelter, and In the Memory House, which The New York Times said is “a wise and beautiful book.”

Cosgrove is a traveling composer, pianist, and multi-instrumentalist from New England. He travels constantly – he’s played so far in 48 out of 50 states – writing and performing music that explores the themes of landscape, place, and environment.

Cosgrove has collaborated with artists ranging from Palaver Strings to Ghost of Paul Revere, and held artist residencies and fellowships with institutions including the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, Harvard University, Middlebury College, the Schmidt Ocean Institute, the Appalachian Mountain Club, and the Sitka Center for Art & Ecology. His nonfiction has appeared in Orion, Taproot, Northern Woodlands, Appalachia, and other publications.

Cosgrove’s fourth studio album, The Trouble with Wilderness, an evocation of various expressions of nature and wildness within the built environment, was released in all formats earlier this year. The album was featured on NHPR’s Outside/In, and was deemed one of the best new releases of last spring by WBUR.

Author: Insider Staff

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