Classical Pianist Hunter Noack in Haleakala National Park

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On Big Blend Radio, acclaimed classical pianist, composer and producer Hunter Noack, discusses how his music connects people with nature, and his National Parks Arts Foundation artist residency at Haleakala National Park in Maui, Hawaii. 

Hunter Noack, an acclaimed young pianist, known for his expressive performances of Liszt and other demanding pieces of the classical and modern repertoire, is the inaugural NPAF artist-in-residence at Haleakale National Park in 2017. He will spend the month of December in this volcanic wonderland, working and composing. Noack also will perform a concert that is free and open to the public, at a nearby school.

Originally from Oregon, Noack grew up in the outdoors, and still feels a strong draw to the power of landscape. “After living in cities for 10 years (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and London) I moved back to green Oregon. I had forgotten how much I loved being outside. I wanted to combine the two things I love most: classical music and the outdoors.” Noack recognized that usually outdoor concerts are noisy, amplified productions, with sheafs of drifiting sound and uncontrolled echoes. Not an ideal way to hear piano music. But Noack was impatient to experiment with the possibilities. As he explains, “I applied for a grant to test my idea and presented nine concerts at historic sites, public parks, and WPA project sites.”


Starting in the late 60s, a loose grouping of American artists began to take their works out into the world, often creating large scale human made works (often in hard to reach, remote locations) that commented on the commercialization of the art market, as well as the increasing marketing of and despoiling of landscape itself. This movement was known as land art. Noack, works much in the same iconoclastic spirit, by taking challenging piano repertoire to the wild, and integrating it to various acoustical spaces, in a series of performances he calls In A Landscape, after the famous piece by John Cage, whose ideas about art were also an influence on the original land artists.


Noack has also experimented with using ‘Silent Disco’ technology, which involves wireless headphones and RF broadcast to create performances that are paradoxical, both open to the elements, and yet intensely privatized, as each audience member, no longer tied to a specific seat or point of view, may wander off to the sound of the pianist’s interpretation of works like Black Earth, and Cage’s own piano works. There are benefits in setting music wild for the performer, too. “Performing in an inherently restorative environment connected me more to the music, to the place, and to the audience.” the artist says. The important thing for Noack is that the elements, and sounds found at the various sites work their way into the non-amplified performance. Says Noack: “If a breeze came through the trees, we all felt it. Natural events felt imbued with meaning. If a flock of birds flew overhead, it seemed as if it were part of the music, which heightened the sense of urgency – these little happenings make us all feel present.”


Noack plans to work on a composition during his time at the park, which he sees as a unique opportunity for artists like himself, to work onsite and in context with traditions that inspire all Americans. “To have silence and space to create is a very special gift that the NPS and National Parks Arts Foundation have offered. During my residency I will create a musical work that is inspired by poetry, songs, and stories of Māori  mythology.”


Noack’s public concert will take place at Seabury Hall campus at the `A`ALI`IKŪHONUA Creative Arts Center, Makawao, Maui, on December 18 at 6:30 pm. The event is free to the public and is sponsored with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Haleakalā National Park, located on the island of Maui, in the state of Hawai’i, was originally founded as part of a two volcano park complex in 1916. The park was formally created as a separate National Park in 1961. Haleakalā is a beautiful volcanic valley that travels from the massive extinct  Haleakalā crater, with its picturesque cinder subcones, all the way across a wide swath of southern Maui, and then stretches two  forested fingers of parkland down to the stunning Kipahulu coast.


The National Parks Arts Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to the promotion of the National Parks of the U.S. through creating dynamic opportunities for artworks that are based in our natural and historic heritage. This project is supported by the Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Parks , and other generous benefactors. All NPAF programs are made possible through the philanthropic support of donors of all sorts ranging from corporate sponsors, small businesses, and art patrons and citizen-lovers of the parks. NPAF is always seeking new partners and donors for its wide-ranging artist-in-residence programs. If you are interested in supporting these programs, visit

National Parks Arts Foundation







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