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Meet the Birder: Ryan Moritz

JUNE 25, 2021

Artist Profile: Greg Kozatec

JUNE 7, 2021

Meet the Birder: Ryan Moritz

JUNE 25, 2021

Meet the Birder: Ryan Moritz

JUNE 25, 2021

Ryan Moritz is a composer and filmmaker, enthusiastic citizen scientist, and lover of birds. His recent work focuses on birds, and the importance of biodiversity to ecological and planetary health. In 2019 he was commissioned by the New York City Audubon Society to create Important Bird Opera (music and film by Ryan Moritz with a libretto by Anjuli Raza Kolb), an experimental opera in three acts. He was born in Denver and currently lives in Brooklyn. 

Video still from Important Bird Opera.

How did you get into birding?

I've always had an interest in nature and conservation, but it wasn't until living in Michigan in 2015 that I became fully obsessed with birds. The number of species and individuals in the region made them hard to avoid (in a good way)! As someone who grew up in the western U.S. even seeing a northern cardinal was exciting (it might be my spark bird). And it was there that I first learned about Important Bird Areas.

How did you come up with the idea to create Important Bird Opera? 

The idea initially popped into my head on my commute and I had to stop to take notes! I wanted to make a project that highlighted migration, climate crisis, and rewilding, and the importance of wild places for birds -- several of my previous works combine video and musical compositions, so the idea to create an "opera" evolved from those early projects and presented a compelling way to feature birds. 

You traveled far and wide to film migrating birds and record birdsong for this piece. What was one of your most surprising moments on this journey?

The most surprising parts of the journey were moments that were unplanned -- arriving at the airport in Albuquerque to see thousands of birds migrating at sunrise, or happening upon throngs of feeding waders on a kayaking trip in southern Florida. I think these unexpected moments are what makes birding, and also documenting/recording nature, so thrilling!  

What's next for you and birds?

I'm currently working on a new creative project, which touches birds indirectly, about the periodical cicada and the emergence of Brood X this month. The project explores the species through a queer lens -- thinking about relationships between species to highlight and dramatize the critical issues facing these insects and the natural world at large.

How did you get into birding?

I'm a composer and filmmaker, enthusiastic citizen scientist, and lover of birds. My work has recently been focused on birds, and the importance of biodiversity to ecological and planetary health. I was born in Denver and currently live in Brooklyn. 

How did you come up with the idea to create Important Bird Opera? 

The idea initially popped into my head on my commute and I had to stop to take notes! I wanted to make a project that highlighted migration, climate crisis, and rewilding, and the importance of wild places for birds -- several of my previous works combine video and musical compositions, so the idea to create an "opera" evolved from those early projects and presented a compelling way to feature birds. 

You traveled far and wide to film migrating birds and record birdsong for this piece. What was one of your most surprising moments on this journey?

The most surprising parts of the journey were moments that were unplanned -- arriving at the airport in Albuquerque to see thousands of birds migrating at sunrise, or happening upon throngs of feeding waders on a kayaking trip in southern Florida. I think these unexpected moments are what makes birding, and also documenting/recording nature, so thrilling!  

What's next for you and birds?

I'm currently working on a new creative project, which touches birds indirectly, about the periodical cicada and the emergence of Brood X this month. The project explores the species through a queer lens -- thinking about relationships between species to highlight and dramatize the critical issues facing these insects and the natural world at large.

See more of Ryan's projects here

Video still from Important Bird Opera.

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