Art and music merge at symphony's season finale
When James Brunelle, 15, first heard Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" last week, the music struck him as "dark and drab," he said, a feeling he tried to capture in a drawing of a woman's hand draped over an elaborately carved chair...
When James Brunelle, 15, first heard Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" last week, the music struck him as "dark and drab," he said, a feeling he tried to capture in a drawing of a woman's hand draped over an elaborately carved chair and holding a fan.
The Schroeder Middle School student and others in local schools were invited to create a piece of art as they listened to excerpts from "Pictures at an Exhibition" as part of a project with the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra.
"Pictures at an Exhibition" will be performed during the symphony's final concert of the season May 7 at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks.
Pictures by his friend Viktor Hartmann inspired the Russian composer Mussorgsky to write the famous piece, published in 1886, and now that composition has inspired the young art students-like Brunelle and his classmates.
The music was "light-hearted, it reminded me of dolphins," said Ashley Welch, 14, explaining the picture of dolphins leaping above sunset-lit waters that she created while listening to the composition.
For Crystal McFarland, 13, the music "had really playful feel" that made her think of kids playing outside, she said. She drew a pastoral scene with an elegantly dressed woman seated under a tree, watching her children at play on the lawn of a chapel.
Art teacher Barb Solway welcomed the chance to encourage her students to take an unusual approach to creating art.
"I had them put their heads down and close their eyes" while listening to excerpts from the composition, she said.
Inspired by "their own ideas, some of the different things they came up with are just amazing."
"It's been interesting, because they rely so much on their computers," she said. "This time they have to rely on their imaginations."
Solway has taught art for 23 years.
"You have to find different ways to reel them in," she said.
The project introduces the students to new experiences, Solway said, and is "a way for them to be part of the community."
About 75 pieces are expected to be selected for display at the Empire on the day of the concert, said Janice Hoffarth, the symphony's executive director. Students whose art is chosen will each receive two tickets to the concert.
Tickets for the concert, set for 2:30 p.m. May 7, are $25 or $15 for student and military with identification. They may be purchased in advance at www.empireartscenter.com or at the door.