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Mentawai: Listening to the Rainforest

More about Mentawai including performances     

  • Friday, January 20, 2012 - 7:30pm    (world premiere)

Music Center Recital Hall (UC-Santa Cruz)
Presented by: Music Department
Hall opens at 7:00 pm, concert starts at 7:30pm

Respondents:  Ravi Rajan, Professor of Environmental Studies and Provost, College Eight Adrienne Zihlman, Professor of Anthropology Peter Elsea, Director, UCSC Electronic Music Studios


  • Sunday, April 22, 2012 (Earth Day) 7:00pm  

Main Theater
University of California - Davis
Presented by Theater Department
Hall opens at 6:30 pm, concert starts at 7:00pm

Respondents: Lynne Isbell, Professor of Anthropology, UC-Davis Andrew Marshall, Associate Professor of Anthropology, UC-Davis Sarah Hrdy, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, UC-Davis Henry Spiller, Associate Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology), UC-Davis Diane Ullman, Associate Dean, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, UC-Davis Co-Director, Art/Science Fusion Program, UC-Davis


  • Saturday, April 28, 2012 1:30pm 

Mackey Auditorium.
California State University at Fullerton
Presented by Southern California Primate Research Forum and
CSUF Departments of Biological Anthropology and Environmental Studies
Hall opens at 8:30am (for SCPRF meeting), concert starts at 1:30pm
Students with ID $7.00, General Admission $12.00. Tickets at door.

Respondents:    Dr. Raffaella Commitante, Lecturer, Cal State-Fullerton, Dr. Chia Tan, Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Norman Rosen, President, Orangutan Conservancy, Founder, SCPRF, Founder, PASA, Lecturer in Anthropology, Cal State-Fullerton

photo: copyright Richard Tenaza

  • November 12-14, 2012, San Francisco(excerpts and discussion; exact date and location TBA in August, 2012)

2012 Visual Research Conference, produced by Society for Visual Anthropology in association with The American Anthropological Association 

  • November 14-18, 2012 San Francisco (full showing is pending approval;  exact date and location TBA in August, 2012)

2012 Visual Anthropology Film Festival, produced by Society for Visual Anthropology in association with American Anthropological Association


photo: copyright Richard Tenaza


What does the rainforest tell us about ourselves and the world? In the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia, wildlife communicates using a complete spectrum of sound that exceeds the range and timbre of a western orchestra. More than 50 meters overhead, female gibbons sing expressive duets in the tree-tops. Hundreds of unique species of birds, frogs, and insects also call and chorus, and in the midst of this sonorous world live indigenous tribes who have listened to the rainforest and existed harmoniously with its flora and fauna for millennia.

"MENTAWAI — Listening to the Rainforest" is an experimental multimedia work joining electronic sound collage by Linda Burman-Hall using biologist Richard Tenaza's rare field recordings of threatened and endangered species with his photographic and her video images of their rain forest habitat. The piece features endangered primate vocalizations, birds and other environmental sounds from Indonesia's Mentawai Islands which lie in the tsunami zone more than 100 miles west of Sumatra. 


This experimental work was created to increase fine arts audience awareness of environmental conservation as well as to provide a welcome aesthetic dimension for scientists working with regional issues. Tenaza is a Professor of Biological Sciences at University of the Pacific in Stockton. Burman-Hall is a Professor of Music at UC Santa Cruz.