Composer-in-Residence Augusta Read Thomas (who prefers “Gusty”) visited Eugene in September, initiating the beginning of several community collaborations that will take place over the year. Her second visit, in April, will be held jointly with guest artists Third Coast Percussion, and will culminate in the performance of her newly commissioned work Sonorous Earth.
During her visit, Gusty visited more than 70 students at South Eugene High School and Willamette High School, whose bands have begun rehearsing her 2001 work Magneticfireflies to be performed in 2018. She also gave composition lectures to 10 high school students at the Academy of Arts and Academics and 25 composition students at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance. Over 45 Willamette High School band students attended a dress rehearsal on September 27 to hear her piece Aureole, which received its Pacific Northwest premiere the following night performed by the Eugene Symphony and conducted by new Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong.
Gusty also met with teachers at the Oregon Supported Living Program to develop a “Music and Art” class engaging adults with and without developmental and cognitive disabilities. The class will culminate in a public display of the artwork created during two three-month classes at The Lincoln Gallery and Hult Center Lobby during the April performance.
Gusty also viewed the instrument collections of the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History to select display items for a special exhibit leading up to her return in April, and joined ESA donors and patrons at our inaugural “Symphony Happy Hour with Francesco,” an informal discussion held at a local coffee bar, and at other events throughout the week.
Gusty wrote of her experience in Eugene:
“The concert was world-class. The individual and collective music making by all the artists was elegant, colorful, bold, vibrant, inspiring and centered… I loved (LOVED!!!!!!!) the soul, expression and spirit in the all-around amazing music making which made the concert radiant…
…I loved all the events that connect to my next visit in April 2018, including meeting with the Oregon Supported Living Program Arts and Culture Program, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the two high schools who will be performing my piece Magneticfireflies, Willamette High School and South Eugene High School, and the young composers at the Academy of Arts and Academics…
Composers throughout history have needed the strong backing of great musicians, colleague composers, conductors, orchestras, music administrators, music scholars music lovers and music supporters who are of the depth, soul, excellence, vision, and care as you all are. Without such support, it is impossible for culture-at-large to improve at musical composition.
As such, I feel fortunate for your personal belief in my life’s work. Our art form at large greatly needs visionary leaders, such as you all, so that all can work together to further music’s flexible, diverse capacity and innate power.
It meant so much to me to be with you all, to work together, and to share our love of and passion for music and life. Here is my heartfelt appreciation! And I eagerly await our SONOROUS EARTH premiere.”