Student artists collaborate in “MC Creates”

For the fourth consecutive year, various artists at Mississippi College will team up to produce a live performance in Aven Fine Arts Building on April 1 at 7:30 p.m. This year’s performance will include original works by student writers, visual artists, pianists, and composers.

This collaborative effort called MC Creates began in 2011 when the piano department performed a set of pieces by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky entitled Pictures at an Exhibition. In the weeks leading up to the concert, graphic design majors created images to be displayed on a screen behind the pianists.

Following the success of that event, the departments joined forces again the next year with a rendition of Schumann’s Carnivale. Last year, the artists added an additional twist as the pianists played works written entirely by composition students at MC.

The compositions were based on a set of poems by Schumann from a song cycle called The Fair Miller-Maid. Since Schumann wrote the original text in German, students Jonathan Parker and Tim Nau shared the task of reading the poems in German and then presenting the English translation for the audience as well.

This year’s event incorporates campus writers as well, as composers based their music on creative writing submitted by English majors at MC. After the completion of the compositions, pianists received copies of the pieces as the graphic designers began to craft images to fit the writing and musical works.

The visual artists involved this year include Xun Liu, Laura McDade, Leslie Baskin, Nicholas Worley, Josh Taylor, Kyle Cotton, Xin Jiang, Toni Harris, Erin Whisler, Yang Meng, Catherine Morgan, Casey Clark, Caitlin Bullock, Sara Gatlin, Aimee Rankin, Zhe Huang, Ri Jiang, Yu Huang, Willis “Wood” Dabbs, Keith Burnett, Kylan Althouse, Ke Wang, Rachel Watters, Chang Liu, Derek Walker, Chris Harsch, James Rushing, and Bethany Sootheran.

The composers are Mary Catherine McKibben, Nicholas Ford, Amy Lauren Jones, Norman Wood, Jonathan Enriques, Warren Ertle, Joel Purvis, and music professor Benjamin Williams.

Each piece generally lasts between two and three minutes, and the composers all use a variety of techniques. For example, one piece requires the performer to reach inside the piano, while others remain more classical in their compositional style.

Those performing live on the piano will be Mary Catherine McKibben, Jonathan Enriques, Warren Ertle, Joel Purvis, Amy Lauren Jones, Maleesa Brenchley, Lindsay Thompson, Elizabeth Moore, and Christa Morgan.

The writing will include a mixture of poetry and prose by Olivia Land, Moira Kelly, Nikki Elebeke, Mary Kate Barthel, Ann Sweezer, and Justin Mainous. While several of the pieces center around religious themes, others deal with the experience of traveling to foreign places, the heartbreak of loss, and unrequited love.

Finally, the poems will be read by narrators Ashley Gressett, Caleb Dickerson, Jay Kucia, Melanie Warner, Cole Angel, Tangelina Hall, and Shelby Scott Harris.

In the weeks leading up to the performance, the artists exchanged information and conversed with one another about interpretations of the poems or pieces that inspired them to write or perform in a certain way.

While the various artists of Aven and the English department tend to stick together, this event allows them to collaborate across mediums in an entirely new way.

“I am so proud of Mississippi College for our annual MC Creates, and even more so this year with the addition of the English department,” said pianist Robby Baine. What other university produces a collaboration of the music, art and writing departments? And that produces creativity on a whole new level.”

– Amy Lauren Jones, A&E Editor

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