Dell Medical School’s Health Learning Building — where the main staircase sweeps in a straight line from the first floor to the fifth, with balconies on each floor overlooking the stairs and the courtyard beyond — played host to original music composed with the structure of the building in mind this week.
Sound in Sculpture is an annual event sponsored by Landmarks, The University of Texas at Austin’s public art program; the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music; and Fusebox Festival. Students perform original compositions against the backdrop of works in the Landmarks collection. This year, five musical compositions were inspired by art at the Health Learning Building.
The evening began in the courtyard with three pieces written for Marc Quinn’s massive sculpture Spiral of the Galaxy: a three-movement French horn sextet by Austin Ali set to percussion and also titled Spiral of the Galaxy; Quintuple Helix, a brass quintet by Grace Ma; and a trio for flute, clarinet and harp by Ben Stevenson titled I Can Hear the Ocean.
Inside, Trio for the Senses, composed and sung by Jessy Eubanks and accompanied by cello and cajon, paid tribute to Ann Hamilton’s O N E E V E R Y O N E portrait series.
To end the evening, the audience moved to the building’s second floor to await Nicholas Perry Clark’s Totems, a saxophone sextet written for a series of Seymour Lipton sculptures on the first, second and fifth floors. The ensemble began on the first floor and climbed the stairs during the piece to play each movement alongside the sculpture that inspired it.
“I’ve never seen a concert structured this way. Getting to move around the space and also see the performance was new for me, and it was really interesting.”
– Sophie Gamez
Clark wrote Totems to allow the audience to experience the sound the building’s structure makes possible.