News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Outdoor concert to grace Black Butte Ranch this month

In A Landscape: Classical Music in the Wild brings its outdoor concert series to Black Butte Ranch this week, June 18–19. Founder, artistic director, and performer Hunter Noack will play a 1912 Steinway grand piano in a meadow, attended by casually dressed concertgoers on picnic blankets rather than the formal, expensive venues where classical music is often played live.

With vast backdrops of lakes, deserts, and skies, the unusual concert settings of In a Landscape might threaten to disconnect audience from performer. Audience members can sit or wander, wearing headphones so that the music travels with them, heard over wind and wildlife.

Listeners at a past performance told The Nugget that they felt spellbound, connected to the natural world and to the music. Noack said he felt very connected to the audience, with the headphones creating a sense of intimacy.

Noack expressed appreciation for how In a Landscape's take on classical music deflects visual attention from himself as a performer. Having a world to observe and explore, and the freedom to walk around, gives his audiences an immersive sensory experience, engaging all the senses in addition to hearing.

In a Landscape is an Oregon 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. While a majority of its revenue came from ticket sales last year, according to the organization's annual report, staging these unique tours also relies on grants, sponsorships, and an impressive amount donated by individuals.

Why do people step up to support this mode of presenting classical music?

"I just think it's such an incredible project," said Kathy Deggendorfer, founder and trustee of Sisters-based Roundhouse Foundation.

Roundhouse is one of many supporters of this year's In a Landscape tour. "It feels like it's a natural fit for us," Kathy continued. "I think it introduces people to music in a new way, and environment in a new way."

Noack grew up in Central Oregon, in the Sunriver area. His mother, Lori Noack, was executive director of Sunriver Music Festival and a friend of Deggendorfer. Years later she became In a Landscape's executive director.

In Sisters, "Hunter and his partner Thomas Lauderdale stayed here at the ranch as artists in residence, which was super fun," Deggendorfer enthused. The ranch in question is Pine Meadow Ranch Center for Arts & Agriculture, a Roundhouse program. "Their focus on bringing fabulous, creative entertainment to rural spaces in Oregon really resonated with our mission."

Though she'd known him many years, Deggendorfer first saw Hunter Noack play in the wild overlooking Summer Lake. "This spot had a view over the whole playa area, an outcropping with pine trees," she explained.

"He started to play and the birds just swooped in, like choreography. Nighthawks when they fly overhead, seen from underneath, look like piano keys. They were swooping and moving with the music while he was playing.

"It was really an incredible feeling. You could feel like you were part of the landscape. The music is like needle and thread, just tying everything together."

In a Landscape has been presented twice at the ranch. "The same thing happened when they played here," according to Deggendorfer. "The whole herd of cows came over at the fence and watched him play."

It's not just animals that find the concerts compelling. As of last year, In a Landscape reported that over 50,000 people had attended their shows, performed by Hunter Noack and 88 guest artists. The tours traveled to eight states for a total of 249 concerts. Many attendees received free or reduced price tickets totaling more than $100,000 in value, courtesy of the organization's Good Neighbor Program.

Bringing joy along with music and environmental immersion, In a Landscape has played at Bybee Lakes Hope Center, one of the state's largest homeless shelters. Other sites include the imposing Central Oregon geological feature Fort Rock, locations in Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and in the Alvord Desert, which is more than 250 miles from the nearest concert hall.

This summer's upcoming tour dates near Sisters include Black Butte Ranch and the Playa residency campus on Summer Lake, along with two concerts in Bend. Tickets are available on with additional information at

After that, In a Landscape's tour will extend into Yellowstone National Park, the Tetons, the Oregon Coast, and San Francisco's Crissy Field in the iconic Presidio, among other locales.

The 2024 season is made possible in part by supporters with local ties, including Visit Central Oregon, Roundhouse, and donor Priscilla Bernard Wieden. Her donation was made "in loving memory of Dan Wieden," co-founder of renowned creative agency Wieden + Kennedy and beloved founder of Caldera Arts, located on Blue Lake in Sisters Country.


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