Set the Night to Music: Composer Nat Evans Soundtracks a Culver City Sunset

Actual sunset from Culver City Park this time last year
Actual sunset from Culver City Park this time last year
Alex Gerulaitis

While watching the sun sink at dusk, how many times have you imagined yourself in a movie, an operatic soundtrack swelling as the final moments of light faded? Seattle composer Nat Evans wants to help you realize that fantasy. This Sunday, he's organized an event that literally sets the sunset to music.

Here's how it works: Download "Assemblage," a mix of new and older compositions Evans arranged to compliment the sunset, from his website onto your iPod right now. By 6:20 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, go to the vantage point at the top of Culver City Park. Precisely 10 minutes before sunset (which is at 6:37 p.m.), you'll get the cue to press play.

Worried he's miscalculated the timing? Doubt it. "I've had good luck with the weather, even here in Seattle. I picked statistically the second least rainy day of the year for us, and it worked out beautifully," Evans wrote me.

Evans has been throwing these site-specific parties all summer, all over the country--from Washington, D.C. to New York and now to Culver City.

"The piece is designed to let outside sounds blend with the music, so everywhere it's happened around the country there are different natural sounds ... cicadas, the ocean, different accents of people walking by ... an ongoing chance operation," he says.

The composer said he was inspired to create the "happenings" by meditation, listening to Indian classical music that was written for specific times of the day, and his desire to take his music outside of the typical setting of a concert hall.

At a time when classical music is struggling for innovative ways to become relevant to younger audiences, Evans' idea seems especially appropriate. Not only does the perception persist that seeing a concert in say, Walt Disney Concert Hall, is cost prohibitive, but once inside those gilded halls, there is often a certain protocol that can leave many outsiders feeling self-conscious. By removing the music from its grandiose house and letting it just be, Evans is making a difficult genre more accessible. Not to mention friendlier--you'll have to take out those earphones before you leave, and a sherbet-colored SoCal sunset is the perfect excuse to talk to your neighbor.

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