Growing up in and living as I do in Minnesota, I’ve spent much of my life out of doors; running, cross country skiing, hiking, boating, and all manner of being out on the water and in the woods—bears are part of this world. You happen upon them and they happen upon you. Both of you are simply outside, walking around, poking your noses into things for the day. The thing is, bears are big. There is nothing else like a bear. If you happen upon a squirrel, or even a deer, you don’t think much of it.  But a bear is a different matter. You stop. If they don’t run away from you, they pretty much let you be as they go on about their business. You watch them, mesmerized. You listen, and in the stillness of the woods, you discern their intricate language of huffs, grunts, snuffles, paw slaps, jaw clicks and growls. It is beautiful, haunting and completely bear. You are struck with their dignity. You are lonely for the want of living in their world if only for a moment. Ursa, a composition in two movements, is music from the soul of the bear articulated through the tuba.  The first movement imagines the bear deep in the wilderness, at night, singing to the moon. The second movement places the bear in the same wilderness but at high noon, rustling about in its habitat. — Libby Larsen, 2010