Bernie Krause, musician and leading naturalist and environmental recording artist, began his musical career in the early 1960s with The Weavers, a world-renowned folk group. In the late 1960s, he began his work in bioacoustics and environmental recording, developing original techniques for recording, analyzing, and presenting habitat- and species-specific sounds. He founded Wild Sanctuary, Inc., to share his field-recording experiences through CDs and sound installations in public spaces.
On April 21, 2016, Bernie Krause was honored with a presentation of the Gotham Green Award for fostering environmental awareness.
The following installation of nature sounds was created by Bernie Krause specifically for Gotham Green.
New Mexican Desert Dawn. Recorded in the panhandle of New Mexico at the foot of the Animus Mountains, Gray Ranch, a 500,000 acre ranch, once owned by The Nature Conservancy, is probably the most tranquil recording site I’ve visited in North America. Geographically, it makes up the meeting place of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts. In over two weeks, we heard only one distant single-engine private aircraft and one automobile. Other than that, just bird and other wildlife unimpeded even by the signatures of domestic animals and humans.
Whales & Eagles of Glacier Bay. Pt. Adlophus, where this segment was recorded, is directly across from the entrance of Glacier Bay, Alaska, 8 miles to the south. It’s a splendid campsite, where twenty yards offshore, humpback whales rest nearly every night during late June and July, often blowing and even occasionally trumpeting in air, creating long, reverberant returns of their special voices.
Spring in Corkscrew Swamp. Located not far from Naples, Florida, this tiny biological island is now surrounded by dense human development. Several years ago, I managed to find a few intervals during the day that were relatively unfettered by human noise and present those early morning examples, here. Prominently heard are the barred owls.
Galapagos: Scalesia Forest Despite its remote location nearly 700 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are really difficult places to record because there are so many tourists constantly pulsed through on a very tight schedule. One afternoon, I was lucky and managed to get a fine example of different kinds of finches (ground, small and large tree, warbler, and a woodpecker) in the Scalesia Forest, a preserved site at the peak of Santa Cruz Island.
Borneo Rainstorm. In the early 1990s I was commissioned to go to Borneo as part of an overall attempt to capture all three of the large primate species (mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and the orang-utan). This segment represents a dawn chorus that begins with gibbons duetting. Part of this same recording was used as the opening for the recent BBC symphony I wrote with my friend and colleague, Richard Blackford, former Balliol College Oxford composer-in-residence. Particularly notable is the way in which the rainforest organism voices re-appear after the storm, literally following Darwin’s timeline of evolution with their choral entrances. First, the insects, then the amphibians, followed by birds and then mammals.
Gorillas at Karisoki. One of the three primate sites I recorded was the Rwanda research station, Karisoke, developed by the late Dian Fossey. I got there two years after her murder but found the gorillas she had worked with still intact. Each day, we tracked their movements through the dense undergrowth of the Virunga Mountains ranging between 8,000 and 10,000 feet with about 50 pounds of audio equipment strapped to my back. This was just a few years prior to the devastating genocide that took place.
Fall in Yellowstone. This is a time of year – late September – when wildlife of all stripes gathers together in Yellowstone biomes for one final concert before heading off to warmer areas of North America. I hadn’t realized that the biophonies could still be so rich and vibrant. But this example will prove otherwise.
I’ve never before received an award for these efforts and I am, frankly, a bit astonished that one can embrace a vocation that evokes such personal joy and be acknowledged for it. In response, I can only say that I am grateful to Gotham Green for this honor.
— Bernie Krause