Fragile Oasis

Wind Orchestra

Fragile Oasis is the name of a collective who describe themselves as “…a grass-roots participatory initiative that connects the shared perspective of astronauts from different countries and cultures with people on Earth, encouraging all to work together so that our planet is not only visibly beautiful, but beautiful for all”.

Many involved in the project are astronauts on the International Space Station (I.S.S.), who post, on their website ( many different details of their experiments, photos from space, and some incredible video footage of our Earth.

One such time lapse video (a video made up many still images) was posted on their website by astronaut Ron Garan ( in 2011. It is made up of images taken from the I.S.S. of what Garan described as “…a couple of laps around our Fragile Oasis before coming back down [to Earth]” and features all kinds of amazing views from space.

Each of the five sections of this work relate to an aspect of the video – either something literal or something more metaphorical. The opening section, i: The lights from Above, is a musical description of the view of the Aurora Australis from above the lights. The second section, ii: The Storm from Above (part i), is also a musical portrayal of portions of the video clip – in this case the many lightning storms we see from above. The storms that are so powerful on Earth appear as small bolts of electricity dancing through the clouds.

The third section, iii: Freya, has its roots in personal family tragedy. The name Freya derives from a Norse goddess who was associated with both beauty and love, and in this central section I wanted to write music that not only acknowledged how fragile life itself is, but that every day of it counts and should be celebrated.

iv: The Storm from Above (part ii) is a again a reference to the lightning storms, but also to the huge hurricanes we see in the video. It leads us to the final section, v: The Oasis from Above – a description of the size and grandeur of Earth, our Fragile Oasis.

Fragile Oasis is dedicated to Natalie Youson, in friendship.

The original wind orchestra scoring was completed in 2014, and was revised in 2017 with the editorial advice of Robert Ambrose whose support of this work I am eternally grateful for.

This wind orchestra scoring was completed in 2014 and was commissioned by a consortium of the following bands:

Agrupación Músico-Cultural “Las Musas” de Guadalupe (Murcia) – Dr. José Ibáñez Barrachina – Spain
Band of the Coldstream Guards – Major Darren Wolfendale – UK
Borge Musikkorps – Sverre Stakston Olsrud – Norway
The Brooklyn Wind Symphony – Jeff W. Ball, Artistic Director – USA
Dunshan Symphonic Wind Orchestra – Adrian Schneider – China
Koninklijke harmonie Ste. Cecilia Zele – Bart Picqueur – Belgium
Musikgesellschaft Emmen – Manuel Imhof – Switzerland
University of Saskatchewan Wind Orchestra – Dr. Darrin Oehlerking – Canada