Students in USD’s music department experienced human perceptions and how they relate to music during the first “Sound, Color, Shape…” symposium last week.
The “Sound, Color, Shape…” symposium is an interdisciplinary event that focuses on human perception and how people see the world and seek to understand it.
The event was sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning, the College of Fine Arts, the music department and the honors program.
Paul Lombardi, assistant music professor of theory and composition, started planning the symposium more than a year ago. He said the event is important for collaborating on ideas from other subjects and departments.
“We don’t offer degrees in my subject, which is theories in composition, so I really like sharing things with my students about it and that’s kind of how this symposium came out,” Lombardi said. “Because (human perception) is such a broad topic, it automatically becomes interdisciplinary.”
Eight events by USD faculty took over the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts. The topics ranged from science, history, math, language, theater and literature, and each topic drew connections to music.
Bradley Sowell, a graduate student in vocal performance, said this aspect of the symposium made it unique.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Sowell said. “I personally never heard of something like it, and after attending it and seeing the (interdisciplinary) side of things, we’re trying to combine all these different fields. I think it’s just wonderful.”
Lombardi said any subject would work with the topic.
“It’s very much in line with the University of South Dakota’s liberal arts mission,” he said. “I hope to get more people involved. Since it’s been advertised, I’ve been contacted by numerous professors across campus who’ve expressed interest.”
Lombardi said he decided to bring this event out for his students and to work with other professors on campus.
“(They were) exposed to things they normally wouldn’t be exposed to,” he said. “There are multiple facets across campus who encourage collaboration, so I think the most important thing this brings to the university and our faculty is collaboration and interdisciplinary topics.”
Though Lombardi didn’t have direct help from students, he listened to what they wanted to learn about during the symposium.
“I’ve geared the topics of my classes toward some of the events that are happening with the symposium,” Lombardi said. “They (helped) me not so much put on the conference, but with the content and the ideas and the inspiration.”
Kaela Dejong, a senior and music education major, said the symposium was an “excellent idea.”
“I was impressed and surprised that we were able to get such great people to come in and speak,” Dejong said. “It’s exciting because the music department brings in a lot of people, but it’s not often a lot of professors and speakers, so it’s completely different than performances.”
Sowell said the symposium helped spread the idea of integrating music into different topics.
“I think it gets music out there for people who don’t normally hear music,” he said. “It’s allowing people to think about music in their own perspective fields.”
Dejong said she likes the idea of showcasing music through these topics.
“Here in South Dakota and USD, we kind of get in our little bubble, and we don’t notice how big the world is and how intelligent people are,” Dejong said. “It’s so nice to have some outside people and the professors to be able to talk about their research and give us some insight that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”
Lombardi said he hopes to make this a biannual event and to hopefully have more people involved.
“I decided to bring it here to provide an opportunity to my students so they can be exposed to things they normally wouldn’t be exposed to,” he said. “I hope they get as much as possible out of it.”