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Three Lakeland College faculty members will combine their talents in a unique collaboration, highlighting the college's third annual Mosaic Concert on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The Mosaic Concert allows students and faculty members from each of the departments within the college's Creative Arts Division an opportunity to perform or show their work. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Bradley Theatre. It is free and open to the public.
Previous mosaic concerts have featured collaborations involving students, but this program will see faculty members from three disciplines — Associate Professor of Music Arthur Johnson, Associate Professor of Art Bill Weidner and Assistant Professor of Writing Nate Lowe — perform a collaborative work.
Weidner gave one of his recent paintings, "The Edge of Evolution," a 30-inch by 22-inch acrylic on illustration board, to Johnson, who composed an original, four-and-a-half-minute work for solo piano based on his interpretation of Weidner's work. Then it was Lowe's turn, and he's written a narrative based on Weidner's painting and Johnson's music.
At the Feb. 16 concert, the audience will see the painting for a few minutes, and then Johnson will play his piece, followed by Lowe reading his piece.
Weidner initially proposed the idea for the collaboration. It's the first venture of its kind for all three, and they're enjoying the flow of creative energy.
"When I first heard Arthur perform his completed composition, I was stunned with the rich complexity and effort he put into this work," Weidner said. "It has such a broad range of feelings that I had to immediately ask him, 'Did you really base that piece on my painting?' It is the highest compliment anyone has ever paid to my artwork in my life. I could barely hold back my tears."
Johnson, a noted scholar and performer of improvisational music, said composing music based on an image was a refreshing challenge.
"I started the process by writing down my thoughts about the painting — what did I see in the painting, and how might that be reflected in music? What moods did I get from the painting?" Johnson said.
"The answers to these questions dictated the instrumentation, tempo, thematic material, texture and other expressive elements. I saw extremely focused lines and edges in the painting, so I thought that translated into a melody and an accompaniment with lots of staccato and little pedal.
"To me, the painting had an overall lightness to it, but also a taste of sobriety, and I tried to capture these two moods proportionately while also depicting the many other moods and meanings I got from the painting."
Lowe said his writing strikes a balance between what he's seeing in Weidner's painting and hearing in Johnson's music.
"The images, lines, space, and color in the artwork have triggered particular associations in me, little windows through which I can access the world as I've experienced it," Lowe said. "But, then, another layer (of music) offers space, tempo, notes and motion that creates another set of associations.
"So far, the art is pushing the content for me while the music is offering particular tones; in other words, the art is what I'm seeing, and the music is how I'm seeing it."
Lowe said he isn't merely transcribing what is being said by the art/music, he's adding his own take to the creative mix.
"There are three voices here, which means there are at least three stories," Lowe said. "And while one thing has maybe inspired another, and there may be tangible connections between them, the unifying voice and story is that of the creative process itself, not of any one individual piece of art within it."
The three faculty members hope to offer the audience a glimpse inside the creative process.
"Hopefully, if Bill, Arthur and I have offered them inspired work, audience members will take with them notes, images and words that will stick to them when they go on with their lives," Lowe said.
This year's effort is setting in motion ideas for more collaboration next year. Johnson and Weidner have discussed reversing their roles, with Weidner painting a work based on Johnson's music.
The concert's program also includes:
"The Mosaic Concert is a collaboration of the departments within the Creative Arts Division," said Russell Pettitt, a member of the division and director of bands. "This is a great opportunity for our division to showcase the fine work of our students and faculty, including talented artists, composers, actors, musicians and writers."