“Ashfall Unearthed,” a half-hour NET Television special, will premiere at 7 p.m. Dec. 13 on NET1. The program features an original composition by Rusty Banks performed by the Nebraska Chamber Players with scenes from the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park.
Featuring music, videography and animation, the program tells a compelling story about how this musical composition, inspired by the Ashfall fossil beds, came to be through the efforts of a creative young composer, an innovative chamber music group, science, history and grassroots efforts.
In writing his musical composition “Ashfall,” Banks said his aim was to take listeners on a musical journey through the events that occurred 12 million years ago in what is now the site of the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park.
Asfhfall is a branch of the University of Nebraska State Museum. The site shows preserved fossil skeletons of rhinos, horses, camels, turtles, snakes and birds in their exact death positions around an ancient watering hole. The creatures died after a great volcanic eruption in what is now southwest Idaho spread a blanket of ash over the flat, savannah-like grasslands of northeastern Nebraska.
Banks, now a resident of Pennsylvania, was a frequent visitor to Ashfall while a student at UNL. Today he is listed in NPR’s “100 Composers Under 40” who are shaping the contemporary music scene.
Following its Dec. 13 premiere, “Ashfall Unearthed” will be re-broadcast on NET1 at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 31.
“Ashfall Unearthed” is funded in part by the Nebraska Arts Council and Nebraska Cultural Endowment. It is a production of NET Television.