The Petrified Forest Project

Raven Chacon composer
Laurie San Martin composer
Kurt Rohde composer
Mischa Salkind-Pearl composer
Eric Moe composer
Ian Gottlieb composer

Rhonda Rider cello

Release Date: June 28, 2024
Catalog #: RR8103
Format: Digital
21st Century
Solo Instrumental

THE PETRIFIED FOREST PROJECT from cellist Rhonda Rider pays homage to the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, where Rider carried out a residency in 2015. The forest is home to Triassic fossils and an over 200 million-year-old ecosystem. The works here, all commissioned as part of the residency, highlight elements that make the park so special.

Pari by Mischa Salkind-Pearl takes its movement titles from flora native to the park. Raven Chacon created a piece, Invisible Arc, inspired by a traditional Navajo hunting song. Kurt Rohde’s credo petrified is for amplified cello, and personifies both life and glacial decay in nature. In Meditation on Impatience, Ian Gottlieb evokes sediment through coalescing layers of sound. Laurie San Martin’s Vast Steppe and Eric Moe’s Verklaerte Holz reflect on the idea of natural beauty and the many transformations it endures.

Rich in metaphor and imagination, THE PETRIFIED FOREST PROJECT resonates at the intersection of music and ecology.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Invisible Arc (2017) Raven Chacon Rhonda Rider, cello 6:35
02 Vast Steppe (2016) Laurie San Martin Rhonda Rider, cello 6:04
03 credo petrified (2016rev, 2018rev, 2020rev, 2023) Kurt Rohde Rhonda Rider, cello 9:48
04 Pari (2016): Brome Mischa Salkind-Pearl Rhonda Rider, cello 1:25
05 Pari (2016): Mariposa Mischa Salkind-Pearl Rhonda Rider, cello 2:12
06 Pari (2016): Seed Mischa Salkind-Pearl Rhonda Rider, cello 5:00
07 Pari (2016): Grama Mischa Salkind-Pearl Rhonda Rider, cello 1:58
08 Verklaertes Holz (Transfigured Wood) (2015): daybreak to nightfall Eric Moe Rhonda Rider, cello 4:20
09 Verklaertes Holz (Transfigured Wood) (2015): flood Eric Moe Rhonda Rider, cello 2:24
10 Verklaertes Holz (Transfigured Wood) (2015): erosion Eric Moe Rhonda Rider, cello 2:40
11 Meditation on Impatience (2016) Ian Gottlieb Rhonda Rider, cello 3:07

Recorded November 13, December 11, 2023 at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA
Recording Session Producer & Engineer Brad Michel
Editing, Mixing & Mastering Brad Michel

Cover photo by Nick Tauro, Jr.

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Chelsea Kornago
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Rhonda Rider


For over two decades, cellist Rhonda Rider was a member of the Naumburg Award-winning Lydian Quartet and Triple Helix Piano Trio. An advocate of contemporary music, Rider has premiered and recorded works by composers including Raven Chacon, Yu-Hui Chang, John Harbison, Lee Hyla, Laura Kaminsky, and Elliott Carter. Her interest in presenting music in unusual places has led her to be an Artist-in-Residence at both Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks. Rider has adjudicated at the Fischoff, Stulberg and Concert Artist Guild Competitions. She is Professor of Cello at Boston Conservatory at Berklee where she was twice awarded Teacher of the Year. Rider is heard on over thirty chamber music and solo recordings.


Invisible Arc for solo cello, written in 2017, is inspired by a traditional Navajo hunting song and reflects the process of waiting for the animal as a prayer for the life of the animal about to be killed.

— Raven Chacon

Meditation on Impatience was the first of two works I ended up composing for Rhonda’s Petrified Forest project. Inspired by the colorful layers of sediment coursing through the Petrified Forest’s Badlands, I knew I wanted to write a piece that featured coalescing layers of sound. Originally intended as a sketch to explore these layering textures, Meditation on Impatience blossomed into its own fully realized composition.

— Ian Gottlieb

The pines rub their great noise
into the spangled dark, scratch
their itchy boughs against the house…

— Dorianne Laux, The Life of Trees

Verklärtes Holz (Transfigured Wood) was written for Rhonda Rider in celebration of her 2015 residency in Petrified Forest National Park. The title, a tip of the hat to Arnold Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht, refers to the parallels between natural and artificial/artistic processes of transformation: the wood of Petrified Forest NP began as living redwoods, swept away by floods, buried, mineralized, the matrix eroded; a cello begins as raw maple, spruce, ebony, and pernambuco which is cut, seasoned, carved, varnished, glued. Some of these processes are relatively quick — flash floods, cutting; the rest are slow on various time scales: years for seasoning, centuries for growing, eons for mineralization. The three movements are named for events or processes of markedly different duration. I encourage the listener to ponder the differences between time as experienced by mature humans, mature redwoods, and a mature planet. The piece is about 10 minutes long, an eyeblink for a redwood, an atom of time for a world.

— Eric Moe

credo petrified is a work for amplified solo cello. This is a revised version of a revision of a revision of a revision of the original piece. As a child, my family would go on summer cross-country trips. With five children in my family, these trips began with camping in tents, moving to a pop-up camper, and eventually to a very small, very cramped, very used Mini-Winnebago. Being a family of Star Trek” fans (the original series!), we called this camper the USS Mustard Seed. The Petrified Forest was a favorite location of my mother’s. Remembering those trips, to that location, with my family, with my mother (long since dead), of trees (that are even longer since dead), makes me consider the unadorned ritual of forgotten deaths, of slow disintegration, of ancient music created for worshiping (“I believe in one…”) that is dying its own gradual death at a glacial pace becoming sonic dust.

— Kurt Rohde

Commissioned by Rhonda Rider as part of her residency at the Petrified Forest National Park, Pari takes its movement titles from flora native to the park: brome hay and blue grama grasses, mariposa lilies, and the seed fern Ginkgo. Delicate, and often unremarkable, these plants thrive in the largely dry areas just beyond where a river meets its shore. Pari is written for and dedicated to Rhonda Rider, whose devotion to the links between artiface and the natural is so inspiring.

— Mischa Salkind-Pearl

When contemplating a piece about the Petrified Forest, I instantly thought of the gorgeous landscape, the mix of very old and new. In music, I became interested in mixing old and new music also. The old in this case, is my own references to Gregorian chants (my memory of them, rather than a transcription of any particular chants). The modern sounds include the changed tuning of the cello (B, F#, D, A) and the exploration of sounds and harmonics. My hope is to create a flexible improvisation that looks forward and backwards at similar objects, gestures, and phrases. I tried to leave many choices up to the performer including repetition of patterns, how many harmonics and how they are played in certain passages, and also, the tempi should feel flexible with much rubato.

I used the letters of the Petrified Forest to generate some of the melodic material. (P)-E-T-R-I-F-I-E-D loosely translated to the pitches E-D#-F#-D (“ri”=the pitch D. “Fi”=F#.) My “loose translation” ignores P and T, however. Vast Steppe is written for and dedicated to Rhonda Rider.

— Laurie San Martin