WBU Brings Contemporary Music and Performance Style to the Stage

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University’s faculty and students will come together Monday night to present a special project unlike anything typically presented at a university level.

Contemporary Music Project II: A Night at the Gallery is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Monday in the Harral Fine Arts Center on the Wayland campus. This event celebrates art music from the 20th Century and beyond with a diverse array of vocal and instrumental performances. An informal reception will be held in the Miller Recital Hall following the event where audience members can interact with the performers.

Admission to the event is free and open to the public.

The art center will be divided into four concert venues, each featuring a different performance. Audience members will receive a program outlining the features at each performance area. They may then begin their tour at the venue of their choice and may move freely from venue to venue as if viewing various pieces at an art show.

“We are trying to have the effect of touring an art gallery,” said Dr. Ann Stutes, co-chair of the Division of Fine Arts at Wayland. “But instead of viewing works of art, they are going to hear musical performances.”

Each venue will feature about 4 pieces performed by the artists. The performances will loop, giving audience members a chance to experience each style of music. Stutes said no one will be able to hear everything, but instead will get “snippets” of the different performances and styles.

“There are 16 pieces. If we did that in a concert, no one could sit there that long,” Stutes said. “Plus, modern music is kind of edgy and our ears aren’t trained to listen to it for that long. We are giving them the opportunity to move about the building and clear their ears before moving on to the next venue.”

Stutes said the reception at last year’s event was very informative as audience members questioned performers about techniques used in learning and playing various styles of music.

The original concept for the project grew from a vision held by four Wayland students who wanted an opportunity to study contemporary music and to help Plainview audiences better understand and appreciate music that is often difficult to process due to its diversity and newness. Rachel Merrill, a senior music and English major from Lubbock, is the only one of the four students still in school.

“This is my second year to be a part of this project,” Merrill said. “I feel that it is important to have a night dedicated to modern music in order to expose it and allow performers and listeners alike to better understand its significance and beauty.”

Dr. Gary Belshaw, associate professor of piano pedagogy at Wayland, said that seeing students willing to step out and experience this type of music and performance style is exciting.

“More than any other time in the history of Western art music, composers have at their disposal the materials and techniques to create any kind of sound imaginable -- from new sounds of incredible beauty and unspeakable joy to sounds which perfectly accompany the 20th Century newsreel and television coverage of the darkest realms of human experience,” Belshaw said. “The fact that our students have been so excited about exploring this new music and bringing it to performance and placing it in the context of contemporary art puts Wayland on equal footing with any other school of music anywhere in the world.”