Not Less Than the Good
Recording at Walden Pond

Not Less Than the Good is a musical sunrise, a celebration of morning as embraced by Henry David Thoreau in Walden. Thoreau wrote about morning as a metaphor for intellectual and spiritual awakening: “The morning, which is the most memorable season of the day, is the awakening hour.”

Commissioned by New Thread Quartet and composed by David Morneau, Not Less Than the Good simulates a sunrise by combining the meditative playing of the saxophone quartet with ambient synthesizers. The music grows from a single quiet note, adding notes and timbres, growing in fullness and depth. Underneath this are sounds recorded during the pre-dawn and early morning hours at Walden Pond: a chorus of insects, the lone song of dawn’s first bird which is joined by others in a raucous counterpoint, and the splashing of morning swimmers. The hour-long performance is punctuated by readings of excerpts from Walden, selected as a secular prayer of hope for enlightenment and performed by poet J. D. McClatchy.

Not Less Than the Good is composed for the bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth (July 12, 2017). In Walden, Thoreau encouraged us to reject the life we’re expected to live, through a pursuit of self enlightenment, through the effort to wake up. His words remain vital today. “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor.”

We live in a moment where our culture grows dark. Knowledge is trivialized. Greed is a virtue. Violence is too often the first answer. And happiness is promised with just one more purchase. Hope comes with the dawn. “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.”

Not Less Than the Good is supported by:
The Walden Woods Project
Kelson Productions
Music – David Morneau
Words – Henry David Thoreau
Performed by New Thread Quartet (Geoff Landman, Kristen McKeon, Erin Rogers, Zach Herchen)
with J.D. McClatchy
Creative Consultant – Melissa Grey
Production Consultant – Michael Fix

Performance History