ARTStem’s successful collaboration with UNCSA Composer-in-Residence Lawrence Dillon, the UNCSA Wind Symphony and Conductor Michael Dodds, and Wake Forest University’s Eric Carlson landed it on the front page of the most recent edition of In Tune. Here’s the story:
Music and science converged at UNCSA in the late afternoon of March 3, occasioning unusual sightings of both the terranean and cosmic sort. Passers-by along Ehle Drive noticed Dr. Eric Carlson, an astrophysicist from Wake Forest University, setting up his telescope and training it on the sun. As they hurried to class, School of Design & Production students who approached the curious scene got to spy the “sunspots” currently featured on the solar surface. Others—mostly School of Music students and an interdisciplinary group of faculty—took their telescopic peek and then slipped into the RJR Screening Room for the main event, a panel discussion on the art, science, and creation of Shadow on the Sun, UNCSA Composer-in-Residence Lawrence Dillon’s newest work for wind ensemble. Moderated by Michael Wakeford, a historian who teaches in the UNCSA Undergraduate Academic Program, the panel featured Carlson, Dillon, and School of Music faculty member and Wind Ensemble conductor, Dr. Michael Dodds.
Shadow on the Sun, which had its world premiere two evenings later under Dodds’ baton at the UNCSA Wind Ensemble Concert, was inspired by paradoxes in solar phenomena—particularly the surprising fact that the sun’s outermost layer, its corona, boasts temperatures many times hotter than those at the star’s core. During the afternoon discussion, Carlson shared fascinating imagery to help explain the thermodynamics of the corona’s heat, Dillon followed with thoughts about the genesis of the composition and a sneak preview of his musical interpretation, and Dodds offered provocative insight into the process of bringing the piece to life as he balanced his own imaginings of the sun with Dillon’s intricate musical exploration. Those in attendance peppered the three panelists with scientific and musical questions. Particularly interesting was the juxtaposition of Carlson’s mathematical expressions of the sun and Dillon’s musical notations—on the one hand, participants noted, they represent starkly different modes of thought; on the other, they are simply two languages through which human enquirers interrogate the cosmos and their place in it! On performance night, the piece was complemented on stage by solar imagery prepared by School of Filmmaking student Chris Frith.
The panel discussion, and Dillon’s world premiere, were supported by an ARTStem Faculty Project Award. ARTStem is a project of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. Under Wakeford’s direction, ARTStem is dedicated to promoting collaborations that explore the relationship between learning and teaching in the arts and the so-called “STEM” disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. For more about ARTStem, visit http://www.artstem.org.
—Michael Wakeford, UNCSA Undergraduate Academic Program faculty member and Project Director of ARTStem
And here are some additional pix from both events: