A Message from Producer-Sound Recordist Thomas Wiewandt / wildhorizons.com

PURPOSE

Being a visual species, we don’t often think about vanishing natural sounds, and people are forgetting how to listen. Creature voices have always been our window to the wild, and it’s our hope that this production will motivate others to protect what’s left of our dwindling Sonoran Desert soundscapes. It would be a great tragedy if this program were to be the last experience of its kind that most people will ever know.

OUR PRESENTATION AT TUCSON’S HISTORIC FOX THEATRE

Immersive audio can be best appreciated in a quiet dark space without distractions. We chose the Fox because the seating is comfortable and its acoustic environment superb, ideal for a relaxing, enjoyable listening experience.

Atmospheric Visuals: The Fox is also equipped with an HD projection system. While we don’t want visuals to detract from our focus on listening, we believe that minimal atmospheric video imagery will help to enhance the experience for many folks. So we have compiled a series of HD videos for projection during the program. The opener shows a late afternoon desert skyscape with moving clouds followed by sunset fading to darkness, moonrise, clouds hiding the moon, and nighttime lightning flashes as a storm approaches and then recedes. After the storm, clouds move away, revealing a star-studded sky, which gives way to dawn, sunrise, and morning light spreading across a peaceful desert landscape.

When:
Tuesday evening, May 9, 2023, 6:00pm-9:00pm.

We have allowed time for attendees to explore exhibits from participating conservation and arts organizations in the lobby.

Note: Because this is an immersive experience, no one will be admitted to the theater after 7:00pm when the program begins.

Tickets & Seating:
All seating will be Open, i.e. attendees can sit where they want

General Admission: $15
V.I.P. Seating:     $50 – includes two gifts:

  • > 2-CD set SOUNDS OF THE SONORAN DESERT
    (see wildhorizons.com website page)
  • > DESERT DWELLERS KNOW poster with words by Byrd Baylor, designed by Paul Mirocha
    (see Pima County Website)
    Gifts that come with our $50 tickets will be distributed to VIP ticket holders by Wild Horizons personnel before/after the formal event. No group discounts for this program.

To Buy Tickets: We will be using Fox Theatre’s ticketing service.

Tickets can be purchased Online: https://foxtucson.com/event/sounds-of-the-desert
or at their Downtown Tucson Box Office (open Tues-Friday 12:00am-4:00pm & 12:00am-6:45pm on May 9).

Tax-Deductible Donations: To help cover the cost of renting the Fox Theatre, we are seeking sponsors. Donations are tax-deductible, payable to The Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Our May 9 booking at the Fox is secure, thanks to a contribution from Don & Nan Rollings. Checks should be sent to the program organizer, Thomas Wiewandt––at 5757 W. Sweetwater Dr., Tucson, AZ 85745. Extra income, if any, will be shared between Wild Horizons (70%) and our editor/intern Jeff Cravath (30%). A loss would be paid by Wild Horizons. Feel free to contact us with questions.

A UNIQUE PRODUCTION

This dusk-until-dawn audio program is a designed listening experience, featuring a rich and diverse blend of natural sounds from Sonoran Desert lowlands in Arizona and northern Mexico. It’s compiled from hundreds of recordings arranged to keep listeners engaged from start to finish. For example, we challenge anyone to record a single coyote chorus that properly conveys the full experience of what those of us who live in the desert know it should sound like at its best. To achieve this we combined five separate recordings to re-create the experience with spatial depth.

Obviously, remaining true to nature requires intimate familiarity with each species in its habitat. We have done our best to preserve the spacious sound environment characteristic of deserts and have used the coming and going of a nighttime thunderstorm as our climax. While editing, we had to keep the flow moving in a realistic way without uncomfortably long intervals of silence or too much repetition––much like designing a film. The producer’s experience in the Sonoran Desert combined with input from several species-specialists was essential. The fly-by of a swarm of honeybees, for example, required help from six bee specialists over a two-week time period. Every recording has a story behind it.

In a modern world choked with noise pollution, getting clean field recordings has become a growing challenge. With careful filtering, some recordings can be salvaged by removing unwanted noise— including wind, and digital “hiss”— provided the noise frequencies don’t overlap significantly with those of the target species or soundscape. Thanks to the talented audio engineers we have worked with in Tucson, the sound used to create this program is beautifully clean––an enormous challenge in today’s overcrowded, mechanized world.

PROJECT BACKGROUND

This independently produced audio project is based on more than 40 years of fieldwork and recording experience by Thomas Wiewandt––not to be confused with his award-winning documentary DESERT DREAMS: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert, shown as a fund-raising program on public television for the past seven years. Following grad school at the UofA (MS in zoology) and Cornell (PhD in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), Tom’s cine work for the BBC and National Geographic included sound recording. Drawing from his personal archive, Tom and sound editor Jeff Cravath created SOUNDS OF THE SONORAN DESERT (2021) to illuminate the beauty and importance of “quietude” in our desert lowlands. Disc 1 of this 2-CD set is an immersive 41-minute audio program without narration or music––the program we will be presenting at the Fox. Disc 2 offers sound clips of wildlife from Disc 1 with their narrated names, a tool for learning. Included is a 16-p booklet with species names in English, Spanish, and Latin.

THE NOISE AROUND US

Humans have learned to adapt to noise pollution that surrounds us, but not without a price. Environmental sounds affect our bodies and brains. Even if not consciously “noticed,” noise from today’s mechanized world numbs our sense of hearing and deprives us of a vital connection with the natural world. For hundreds of years, health experts have known that natural sounds and undeveloped landscapes offer healing, restorative effects, now confirmed by modern brain scans, heart-rate monitors, and behavioral studies. Many people turn to the peace of parklands for safeguarding mental, physical, and spiritual health.

Noise has negative effects on wildlife too. Numerous studies have confirmed that chronic traffic noise, for example, increases stress in animal populations, reduces wildlife diversity and abundance, and interferes with key survival behaviors, like the ability to establish territories, find suitable mates, protect young, and avoid predators. Noise can even affect plants that depend on animal populations for pollination or seed dispersal.

Imagine what would happen to Tucson’s treasured parklands and tourism if ADOT’s (Arizona Department of Transportation) proposal to ram a new Interstate-11 corridor through Avra Valley wins approval. A sea of urban expansion has already engulfed the eastern, southern, and northern flanks of the Tucson Mountains. And if a new trucking corridor on the western side of the mountains becomes a reality––with development that would surely follow––Saguaro National Park West, Tucson Mountain Park, Ironwood Forest National Monument, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and Old Tucson would all experience irreversible harm. Defeating this proposal could be Tucson’s biggest battle of the decade.

Sounds of the Sonoran Desert, A Dusk until Dawn Listening Experience, produced by Thomas Wiewandt and edited by Jeffrey Cravath.

“Very entertaining, educational, and extremely well done! Many bird voices were familiar to me, others an education. Howling coyotes and thunder, lightning and gushing rain . . . never heard surround sound so impressive before!” 

~ Angelika Siewert, Michigan customer

Disk 1 :: 40 minutes :: AN IMMERSIVE & RELAXING AUDIO PROGRAM WITH NO NARRATION, designed for continuous listening, based on 40 years of field observations and sound recording by the producer. Features a summer monsoon storm, 27 species of birds, 5 mammals, 1 reptile, 8 toads/frogs, and 4 insects.

Disk 2 :: 17 minutes :: AN EDUCATIONAL SPECIES INDEX, a narrated reference guide for listeners, with 55 sound clips of wildlife featured on Disk 1. Sound clips are alphabetized by species and are on separate, numbered tracks for easy access.

16-page Printed Booklet :: Contains project background information, all credits, and a list of species on Disc 2, alphabetized by common name, with each track number, scientific name, and Spanish name.

Sounds of the Sonoran Desert, Desert Dreams,

MEDIA BUNDLE SAVINGS
Sounds of the Sonoran Desert 2-CD set
plus Desert Dreams Video
($45 Value)

Sounds of the Sonoran Desert, Soundtrack for Desert Dreams

MEDIA BUNDLE SAVINGS
Desert Dreams Soundtrack CD
Sounds of the Sonoran Desert 2-CD set
($40 Value)

Sounds of the Sonoran Desert, Desert Dreams, Cosmic Fire

MEDIA BUNDLE SAVINGS
Sounds of the Sonoran Desert 2-CD set
plus Desert Dreams DVD Video
plus Comsic Fire DVD Video
($65 Value)