The Conservatory’s Community Academy director and composer Mara Gibson has been named as a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Her residency at the prestigious colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire is August 1–22, 2016. During that time Gibson expects to work on her ongoing orchestra project for the Baroque on Beaver festival orchestra directed by Robert Nordling and inspired by island communities, or a new project for Yarn/Wire, or both!
While in residence at the MacDowell Colony last August, I began two major projects that are coming to fruition this spring and summer. Click on the links to learn more about these projects!
Despite the MANY challenges of 2016, there have been a lot of creative opportunities for me, for which I am grateful.
Blackbird premiered with the splendid Cascade Quartet, and then again with my dance and video collaborators Gary Abbott and Caitlin Horsmon, a culmination of the work I did at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts during the summer of 2015.
One Voice premiered and was recorded for my 2nd CD with long-time collaborator Michael Hall and new friend/collaborator Megan Ihnen who I reconnected with in Baltimore at New Music Gathering this past January (we met first in Vienna with Michael on an absolutely incredible evening at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral… seriously, Bach’s organ toccata was playing upon our entrance). It was a sign indeed!
Then I had the great honor and pleasure to attend the MacDowell Colony as a fellow. Three weeks seemed small in retrospect, but I met so many incredible creative spirits during that precious time there (Toni Morrison, Tania Leon and Bill Jacobson to name a few — Bill took this pic which encapsulates so much for me at this time).
At MacDowell, I started my Preludes project with pianist Holly Roadfedlt inspired by paintings by Jim Condron, as well as sketching my first orchestral commission for the Baroque on Beaver Music Festival led by Robert Nordling, which will premiere in August of 2017. I signed on with PARMA for my second CD which will release in November of 2017.
Gushiness aside. MacDowell made me soft, what can I say. Thanks for the occasions 2016. 2017 will be new indeed. Starting off with more recordings and the premiere of Sky-born🙂
Join us for the premiere of the full collaborative iteration of The Blackbird Project for a program is inspired by making the ordinary extraordinary with music by Gibson, featuring collaborations between the Cascade String Quartet, several Conservatory musicians, including JoDee Davis, Trevor Thornton, Emily Trapp and, dancers with choreography by Gary Abbott, and video by Caitlin Horsmon.
Thrilled to announce that Cascade Quartet will premiere my new string quartet January 31, 2016 in Great Falls, Montana as a part of their Living Female Composers Project. The quartet will also visit Kansas City in March to premiere to full collaborative iteration of the Blackbird Project as a part of ArtSounds, featuring choreography by Gary Abbott and video by Caitlin Horsmon. While in Kansas City in March, they will also make several visits to area schools as a part of the Conservatory in the Schools and read student compositions at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.
Gibson’s music has been noted as boasting “attractive, believable, attention-holding verisimilitude” and ideal for listeners seeking “new works that experiment with alternative sounds and find an effective way to give those voices meaning.” Online blog reviews have proclaimed Flone “an absorbing work that exerts narrative logic and reflects both backward and forward” and “a most compelling and fascinating work.” Another writer declares that passages in Moments “melt in a rich, luxurious chocolate of colour and texture.” Chamber Music Today offers reflections about Canopy and the Paine sculpture to which it relates, saying, “Gibson’s sonic stimuli synergize nicely with Paine’s sculpture’s visual and haptic stimuli. Together, the two works manifest a cohesion that is evident to listeners/viewers … a brilliant success as a tandem installation.” Another CMT critique says Canopy “culminates in a radiant, nature-affirming performance,” while the American Viola Society asserts that “Canopy, performed by Michael Hall … is highly attractive music for viola.” Map of Rain Hitting Water, Gibson’s multi-elemental percussion piece and film collaboration, has been described as “a superb composition, an excellent film … sufficient to propel an evening’s meditation and beyond.”
ArtIfacts is Mara’s first full solo CD featuring her recent works with performances by Tom Aber, Michael Hall, Robert Pherigo, Mark Lowry, Luisa Sello, Ya-Ting Liou, Blas Gonzalez and Alvin Wong, artwork and design by Caitlin Horsmon, sound engineering by Bob Beck and notes edited by Sarah Tyrrell.
As Gibson describes, “performers are an integral part of my compositional process, and in fact I view performers as equal collaborators. Without their openness, creativity and perspective, my music could not be realized. The pieces in this compilation share a common platform: each piece was written with specific performers in mind.”
Purchase your digital copy here, or contact the composer directly for your physical copy.
Conservatory’s Academy Awarded NEA ArtWorks Grant
The UMKC Conservatory’s Academy is pleased to announce that it has received a National Endowment for the Arts ArtWorks$20,000 grant for its Conservatory in the Schools program. This is the second NEA grant for this program. The groundbreaking Conservatory in the Schools programs provide high-quality performing arts instruction encompassing three distinct in-school programs and targets young musicians from underrepresented populations in the Kansas City metro area.
Conservatory Dean Peter Witte said, “Today’s NEA grant is another endorsement of UMKC’s commitment to inclusion and arts education. Through Conservatory in the Schools, Conservatory students learn to connect and serve prior to launching their careers. With this most recent grant, we’ve garnered close to $300,000 since 2008. The result? Our Conservatory students are engaged in neighborhoods, teaching, learning, and building bridges.”
Academy director Mara Gibson notes, “Continued recognition from the NEA affirms that we are serving our mission to provide high quality music instruction here in Kansas City, one student at a time. In 2015-16, we will reach 61 individual Musical Bridges students, and touch more than15 schools, reaching hundreds through our programs Composers in the Schools and Ensembles in the Schools.”