Newly-composed pieces of music, accompanied by the paintings that inspired them, will be played at the John A. Day Art Gallery on Jan. 27 at 5 p.m.
Alison Erazmus, Director of the University Art Galleries, will be hosting painter Ricki Klages in honor of a composing contest which challenged musicians to view her paintings for a short period of time and compose a piece of music inspired by what they saw.
“She has a rich body of work,” Erazmus said. “Painting is a degree that is offered at USD and the students will be able to see some amazing technique.”
The concert will be an informal event where patrons are encouraged to walk around the gallery and view the paintings and Klages said she has never been part of anything like this before.
“I think it will be a really interesting marriage between art and music,” Klages said.
Klages’ paintings feature bright colors and often have themes of reminiscing or yearning. Her works have won many awards and have been featured in galleries all over the world.
“I would be surprised if somebody did something really disjointed because my work is very florid and narrative,” Klages said. “I would imagine the composers would do something more orchestral.”
University of South Dakota music professor Nolan Stolz held the contest online where composers submitted their pieces anonymously.
“It’s a way to bring a lot of attention to USD,” Stolz said. “There were literally hundreds of hits on my website and it was advertised nationally.”
Twenty-three winning pieces were chosen and will be performed by five USD music professors: Stephanie Kocher, Marie-Elaine Gagnon, Tracelyn Gesteland, Heidi Farrell and Tim Farrell.
Stolz said the classical contemporary pieces will vary with the age of the composer as well as what they took from the paintings. While the contest was open globally, all of the winners were from the United States.
“The style of music is always going to be affected by the generation of the composer,” Stolz said. “Often these works will turn into something larger in the future.”
Erazmus said this is a great opportunity for students and professionals to learn from each other.
“If you’re an artist, it’s essential to talk to other professional artists and hear their methodology and how they work,” Erazmus said.
Reach reporter Anna Burleson at Anna.M.Burleson@usd.edu.