Visual arts and music composition students collaborate for first time

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For one of the first times in BYU history, visual arts and music composition majors collaborated for the event titled “Sight and Sound.” The event took place March 29 in the Nelke Theater in the Harris Fine Arts Center.

The Sight and Sound project began with two BYU brothers, Nathan and Aaron Haines. They were inspired by the nineteenth-century masterpiece “Pictures at an Exhibition.” This was a ten-part piano arrangement by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in reaction to his contemporary watercolor artist Viktor Hartmann. The Haines brothers wanted to recreate the same situation for BYU students.

“This is not your typical sit-back concert,” Nathan Haines said, “but something you as an audience will need to be engaged in.”

Visual arts and music composition majors were asked to collaborate and create an art piece based on their reactions to Karl G. Maeser’s “Circle of Honor” quote. The quote emphasizes Maeser’s determination to keep his word of honor, even if his life depends on it.

“Stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I’d die first,” Maesar said.

The visual arts majors created a visual representation of their reactions to the quote while the music majors composed a work of art based on the artists’ visual representation.

Studio arts major Katie Reed created an art piece entitled “Reclaiming.” The Maeser quote inspired Reed to focus on regaining one’s honor.

“Your reputation can be ruined forever,” Reed said. “Even if you say something wrong.”

Reed worked with Todd Kitchen, who composed a piece based on his interpretation of Reed’s artwork. Reed commented on what it was like collaborating with other students.

“You are forced to think of ideas that you wouldn’t normally think of,” Reed said.

Many other students gave their interpretation of the circle of honor quote. Ten teams of two collaborates each brought insights including learning from mistakes, not crossing boundaries and having integrity.

Various music performance majors were asked to play the pieces that the music composition majors arranged. Instruments and materials used included percussion, clarinet, marimba, cello, violin and computer electronics.

“I hope that my music can be a vehicle to open up people’s ears to a wider perspective of music,” Kyle Shaw, a music composition major, said.

Courtney Moses, a music education major, played the clarinet for one of the student composers. She encourages BYU students to use art to express cultural differences.

“Sometimes words get in the way,” Moses said. “Music crosses language barriers that I’ve never seen before. Sometimes words can be confusing.”

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