This post was written in preparation for our May 2016 spring program.
One of the aspects we enjoy most about putting together one of our seasonal concerts (other than the music itself) is the opportunity to collaborate with one of the talented local artists in our area of Northern Michigan. But, what does it mean to “collaborate” with another artist — especially when you work in a completely different medium?
Honestly, with each collaboration we participate in, it means something a little different; it all depends on the artist, their work, and their eagerness to engage with a bunch of musicians!
For our May 1st concert (New Voices), we were hoping to find an artist in the Benzie County area. Not only would this make their collaboration more accessible to the concert venue, but it would help give our whole program a firmer grounding in the Benzie area. We were very fortunate, then, to come across the artwork of Ellie Harold of Frankfort.
Though Ellie is originally from Atlanta, like so many others, she visited Northern Michigan and quickly gave into its powerful charm. Within a year of her visit, she bought property and began putting down roots in Frankfort! Her home — an 1895 Victorian house in Frankfort’s historic district she and her husband have lovingly restored — is also her art studio and gallery.
“For me it’s important to have a place to ground myself, but it also serves as a springboard for exploring a larger arena. Likewise, as the music of ‘New Voices’ draws inspiration from a personal experience or a local scene, as an artistic expression it also extends its influence much farther afield.” — Ellie Harold
Grounded in the beauty of Northern Michigan, Ellie’s art recently reached a very large audience in February 2016 when one of her paintings (Morning Light) was selected for the Prince Street Gallery‘s 8th National Juried Exhibition in New York City. Ellie was one of only 64 artists whose work was chosen from over 700 submissions for the juried event.
Though her artwork often has a certain representational quality, the colors and techniques she employs result in an image that goes beyond mere representational art. A glimpse of the Lake Michigan coastline, for example, becomes alive with shades of colors and angular figures — evoking not only the image perceived by the eye, but also the colors and shades of human emotion. One can almost hear the music!
We toured Ellie’s gallery earlier this spring, hoping to learn more about her art and to also find one of her paintings that would adorn our concert poster. Finding a work that spoke to our theme of New Voices was not difficult at all. Narrowing our selection down to the perfect choice took some doing, however!
Up North Jewelscape is the perfect visual complement to the music for New Voices because it blends the familiar with the abstract and unexplored. Like Ellie’s beautiful landscape, our concert will guide the audience on a journey — to places both real and imaginary, past and future. According to Ellie, the “painting refers to elements I appreciate in the Lake Michigan shoreline but was also inspired by a trip I took to Paris last year. To me it’s a joyful and intuitive painting that celebrates nature and the visual play of complementary and secondary hues. I like that several birds have landed in the branches of those colorful trees.”
Manitou Winds recently visited with Ellie to unveil our concert poster design and to talk a bit more about art, music, and where our two mediums intersect. Like a few of the composers on our concert program, Ellie has very modest formal training in her art. Instead, her works are the result of patient and careful learning by experience. Her artistic philosophy is rooted in her understanding and experience of art as meditation. It’s proven to be a self-reflective practice, a way for her to understand herself.
While putting together the program for New Voices we’ve found a few composers who feel the same: their work is the result of an exploration of their subject, not a mere academic application of composition technique. A textbook, after all, cannot explain how to write a piece of music that will paint a perfect still life of red daisies in a silver vase on a table in a sunny kitchen nook; or tell the story of majestic but broken wings being mended by careful and loving hands.
As a result of our collaboration for this concert, Ellie and Manitou Winds are eager to discuss future projects. Among the possibilities is the creation of a series of paintings inspired by an original composition. Artists of varied art forms have always managed to inspire one another to create. Ellie’s approach to the canvas resonates with me and my own approach to composition. As we both love the landscapes of Northern Michigan, I expect our inspiration for a future project will be easy to find.
As part of the collaboration, Ellie Harold will display select paintings in a special exhibition at the concert venue. Come join us for a glimpse of inspiration with New Voices.
Category: Musical Musings, New Voices, PerformancesTags: art, art of collaboration, artist, Benzie County, Benzie Wild Rose Society, chamber group, Chamber Music, Classical Music, Collaborating Artist, composers, composition, concert, Ellie Harold, Frankfort, manitou winds, modern music, New Voices, Northern Michigan, oil on canvas, Up North Jewelscape, woodwind