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College of Music lecturer awarded grant

UNT College of Music’s Elizabeth McNutt, flute principal lecturer and director of the Nova new music ensemble, has been awarded a grant by the Earle Brown Music Foundation that is allowing her to highlight UNT’s diverse musical and cultural programs at the Dallas Museum of Art. Funds must be used to support the performance of Earle Brown (a leading composer of modern music) and Morton Feldman (Brown’s long-time colleague) compositions. The grant covers two concerts, one in 2016 and one in 2017, and has provided her with what she is calling the perfect opportunity for a collaboration with the DMA.

“I saw that the Dallas Museum of Art was doing this big Jackson Pollack exhibit. Earle Brown actually talks about Jackson Pollock and how he influenced his music. Feldman and Pollock were friends, and Feldman did the music for a film about Jackson Pollock that was made when Pollock was still alive,” McNutt said. “I thought, ‘this is a natural for our theme and for the granting organization,’ so I applied for the grant and got it.”

College of Music faculty Joseph Klein and Andrew May will join her for the March 18 performance, as well as some current and former UNT students. The event is part of the DMA Late Night series, and will be held at 7 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium, 1717 North Harwood, in Dallas. McNutt says Earle Brown was inspired by Jackson Pollock’s creative process and wanted to translate it into a piece for musicians to perform in a similar way. She hopes to create that feeling through the DMA performance.

“I really wanted to find pieces that were of that moment and inspired by Pollock’s artwork,” McNutt said. “While Brown’s composition isn’t improvised, many decisions about the piece are left to the performers – such as the form, texture, and speed of the piece – which are not fixed. The conductor decides in the moment who plays when and how fast, and melodies can loop and be combined in new ways. As a performer, you have no idea what will happen next. It’s not a piece you can just give to any classical musician because you have to be able to, in the moment, adapt to the conductor’s directions. It’s kind of a rush, I think.”

McNutt is not new to planning performances at major art museums. She developed the “Sounds Modern” series for The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth through which she programs a whole concert of contemporary music around an artist or theme represented in the galleries. Recent events include UNT College of Music faculty joining her to perform modern Mexican composers’ works in conjunction with the exhibition “Mexico Inside Out,” and “Music from Freud’s London” for a showing of Lucien Freud’s portraits. 

McNutt hopes to continue to expand on the success of the “Sounds Modern” series and will use the 2017 grant funds to develop a performance for the program’s 10th anniversary at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

“The date hasn’t been set yet, but we will be performing Brown and Feldman’s works – not the same as at the DMA concert, though,” McNutt said. “‘Sounds Modern’s’ first performance at The Modern was a piece of Feldman’s, so we thought 10 years later it would be nice to do another piece of his in celebration. It will be a nice change to present a concert that is not tied to the artwork.”

-Courtney Taylor, news promotions

Posted on: Wed 09 March 2016

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