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for symphony orchestra

(2222 - 43211 - Timpani - 3 percussion - strings)

Duration: 9'



Kéyah invites listeners into a rhapsodic world to match former National Eminent Photographer Frank Lee Ruggles’s breathtaking photographs of America’s natural wonders. Kéyah is the Navajo word for “land,” a nod to our land’s history and the depth and breadth of Ruggles’s work.

Musically, these photos suggest a rich, diverse palette of sound with high contrast in color, texture, and mood. Melodies from individual instruments reflect the land’s distinct details, while the power of the full ensemble matches the sweeping grandeur of its magnificent scenes. I imagined many sounds and pictures as I wrote. Stirring animals. Birds in flight. Wind rustling grasses. Sand brushing over rock. Brilliant sunsets and shaded canyons. Ultimately, the musical story of Kéyah through America’s landscape is guided only by the listener’s imagination and Ruggles’s photos.

Commissioned by the Central Ohio Symphony in honor of its 40th Anniversary.

Awards & Performances

National Finalist Honorable Mention: 2019-2020 American Prize in Composition (Orchestra, Professional Division)


World Premiere:

Central Ohio Symphony, Delaware, Ohio. April 2020.


Expedition - a film by Frank Lee Ruggles

Frank Lee Ruggles created Expedition to be screened over the live orchestra. This version includes MIDI realizaitons.

Jennifer Jolley's Blue Glacier Decoy accompanies Frank Lee Ruggles's black and white photogrpahy  in the first part of the film. 

Kéyah accompanies the color photography (beginning at  6'30).

Lauren Spavelko

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© 2017 by Lauren Spavelko

Stock images from www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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