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Labs project pairs music with objects—see it this weekend

April 22, 2013

When it comes to pairings, most people think of flavors—the perfect wine with the perfect cheese, or fruit and chocolate. But what about pairings that excite senses beyond taste, like a piece of music accompanying not dancers, but an archaeological object or work of art?

This is the idea behind Hidden Harmony, a series of concerts by the Beloit College Chamber Singers and Anacrusis (a women’s choral group) that began this past weekend and will continue Friday (April 26) at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday (April 28) at 3 p.m. Both concerts will take place in the Wright Museum of Art, and due to the limited space, attendees are asked to reserve tickets ahead of time. Click here to reserve tickets for Friday’s performance; click here to reserve tickets for Sunday’s performance.

Hidden Harmonies 1 

The concerts are the result of a Labs Across the Curriculum project conceived by music professor Susan Rice, who partnered with museums staff starting in 2011 to plan the concerts. The museums staff suggested objects, (“we went through several rounds of suggestions before we settled on just the "right" objects,” she says) which include the Frank Boggs painting Energy, the Albrecht Dürer print Saint Jerome in his Study, a monkey mask from Bali, and a blouse made from the mola textiles of the Kuna in Panama. Rice was then tasked with picking music to associate with each particular item.

Hidden Harmonies 3 

But the collaborations did not end there—in December, after Rice had finished selecting the music, she and the museum collaborators “brainstormed which faculty members might be most intrigued by the project, and which could train their disciplinary lens or their personal experiences (or both) on one of the museum objects and then share those ideas with the singers in one 60-minute lecture/discussion session,” she says. “We're excited that the faculty collaborators represent such a wonderful cross-section of the campus.”

The faculty who participated include:

  • Fran Abbate, English/creative writing
  • Marion Fass, Health & Society
  • Bill Green, Logan Museum/anthropology
  • Ted Gries, chemistry
  • Natalie Gummer, religious studies
  • Catherine Orr, women's and gender studies
  • Jo Ortel, art history
  • Lisl Walsh, classics
  • Robin Zebrowski, cognitive science

Each of the faculty members wrote an essay based on their presentations, which is published in the Hidden Haromny concert booklet with Rice’s explanations of the musical pairings. The students involved in the choral groups got involved via discussions and writing assig­­nments. ­­­­

“They're drawing on all of those experiences to craft a script that they'll share with the audience throughout the performance,” Rice says. “And we're hoping the audience members will stay after each performance for a Q & A session with the performers and any of the project collaborators who are present.”

Hidden Harmonies 2