Landscape concert and art installation highlight ZenaFest

by University Communications,

  • A dirt pathway created by two lines of tire tracks running through the woods
  • Two students work at a cider press
  • A tour guide speaks to a crowd of people in the middle of a yellow field

Annual event expands creative possibilities at the rural property.

A grand piano concert headlines Willamette’s Sept. 9 celebration of its sprawling research and learning laboratory located in Eola Hills about 10 miles west of campus.

At ZenaFest, the Sustainability Institute’s annual fall event, nationally recognized pianist Hunter Noack will play his nine-foot Steinway piano on the university’s 305-acre property. The performance, billed by the organizer as “classical music embedded in and responsive to the landscape,” runs 3:30–4:15 p.m.

As Noack plays, Assistant Professor of Art Cayla Skillin-Brauchle, Chloe A. Lawton ’18 and other students will respond with their own performance — an art installation created in real time to the music. They say they will use “the property’s natural and social histories, as well as its project future as a guide.”

Joe Abraham, director of the Sustainability Institute, says, “We’re using this year’s event to begin reintroducing the property to our campus community as an educational asset for the entire institution.”

The festival runs 12:30–4:30 p.m. and will include faculty- and staff-led tours, fresh-pressed cider tasting and hiking. Parking is limited so students are asked to ride the bus, which requires reservations by Sept. 7. 


Later that evening, Willamette’s Alumni Office is holding its own sold-out event for alumni and the university community at the property: VIP wine tasting with Samuel Robert Winery and locally sourced-farm-to-table appetizers at Perrydale Hills Vineyard.

A repeat performance by Noack will follow, and attendees will be given wireless headphones so they wander through the forest while listening to the music. The evening concert is open to the public and requires a ticket.  

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