September… strings.

At long last! Finally revealed to the world !

Musical Ecology strings +

Todd Harper, compositions/art; conductor, orator:Aaron Kerr, producer, cello.: Michelle Kinney, cello: Laura Harada, violin: Gary Schulte, violin & viola: Matty Harris, reeds:Paul Cantrell, piano & accordion.

Friday, September 17th. 7 pm 1697 Lafond Ave St. Paul 55104. (Zion Lutheran Church) doors open at 6:30. YES! WEAR A MASK !!!! Live stream address:

program notes

In the fall of 2019, I began to create visual scores for musicians. Line, shape, color, texture and text encouraged musicians to explore a unique path of musical invention. Aaron Kerr and Laura Harada studied these scores, and brought out interpretations I hadn’t conceived of! We were preparing during the winter of early 202o for a concert on March 28th to reveal these scores.

Well, you know what happened in March. I was heartbroken, but determined to someday expand and present these ideas. That spring I discovered the joys of watercolors ! Since I couldn’t rehearse with others, I made even more scores. Somehow, I wanted to have a small string ensemble playing these works.

Summer and Autumn of 2020 passed: I had some great concerts in ” Harper’s Grove” ( my backyard). These were wonderful, but. there wasn’t an opportunity to rehearse. In January 2021, Aaron said to me” It makes me mad that people don’t know what you are doing with visual scores. I am going to produce a concert with any group you want, and project the scores so people can see them”. Taken back by his generosity, I decided to go for the big dream: it was the time for a string ensemble, + piano & reeds.

Of course, Aaron & Laura had to be in it. I asked Gary Schulte, whom I know from our mutual friend Carei Thomas. He agreed. In the 20’s Carei had an ensemble with Gary and Michelle Kinney, called “Triade”( PLEASE check them out !) . We were all missing Carei,( died 3 days after George Floyd). I asked Michelle and she graciously joined us. I now had a “grounded” string quartet: two cellos,+violin, & violin/viola.

Since 2001, I have collaborated with Paul Cantrell: he, Carei and I hosted a yearly piano concert ” Keys Please” which lasted 16 years. Matty Harris came recommended highly by Nathan, he is an adventuresome, sensitive player who fleshes out this ensemble with bass clarinet, clarinet & soprano saxophone.

The synergy of this group is amazing ! Within this sextet, there are more mathematical combinations than I can easily process…. It seemed obvious that each player have solo instrumental work.and, there are many other combinations. This is a combo I need to return to !

What to call it? I decided that for the rest of my life, I will have one ensemble: ” Musical Ecology”. This is the debut of “ Musical Ecology strings+

My deepest thanks go to Mira Kehoe of Arts on Lafond/at Zion Lutheran Church for her support! Barry Madore tirelessly is documenting the sound and images, with help from Joeseph Abbott Maurer.


  1. Red Sumac/ Sarabande 2: I began this work as a waltz, with no tangible melody. It dawned on me that the form can change time signature with each chord. So I wrote it out that way. This is a condensed version.
  • Bird Myth 6: How come there are no sparrows named after Eric Dolphy? For Dr J. Drew Lanham Matty Harris (bass clarinet)
  • Fauna Obscura: Gary Schulte ( viola) Matty ( soprano saxophone) Aaron Kerr & Michelle Kinney ( cello).
  • The Speed of Sunset: Paul Cantrell ( piano) Directions” Play in any order, Go in a clockwise or counter clockwise path, or repeat some measures which speak to you. But remember how quickly sunsets go by, the older we get .
  • birch leaves, wind: All
  • Hidden Fox Chordal: Aaron, ( cello) Another frame. Foxes everywhere going zig zag.
  • Erik Satie is Bathing: All.
  • You are seeing birds: Aaron & Michelle ( cello ) Laura & Gary ( violin)
  • Almost Solstice: All. The romp before the fall. We didn’t see it coming.
  • January New Moon: Gary: violin). Michelle( cello). Paul. ( piano)
  • Ambedo: 5 short 3 duets, two trios.
  • Rain Soaks earth: Michelle, ( cello)
  • March 31: All
you are seeing birds
  • Common time: For David Stenshoel . Laura ( violin) More than 4/4.
  • Sudden Risks or Death: Aaron, Michelle, ( cellos) Laura, Gary ( violins). Matty (bass clarinet)
  • What kind of sparrow is that?: Gary ( violin)
  • Geometry for small shorebirds: For Bob Zander & Ann Lemmenes A pizzicato riff, pulsating, flying off. Volital tempo markings. Life as a continuous line segment.
  • March 31: reprise.

Liner notes