ATELIER COURSE (co-taught with composer Steven Mackey)

Composer, guitarist and Professor of Music Steve Mackey and director and filmmaker Mark DeChiazza led an open-ended investigation into new ways of effectively synthesizing composition and performance of music with diverse arts disciplines to create new modes of dramatic expression.  Students worked in small teams and explored collaborative processes through the creation of short music-centered performance works.  The course culminated in a presentation of the students' compositions in Forbes Theater, in May 2013.

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Reflections on the course from the Students of ATL 494:

“The art we make in this class is eclectic, visceral, and knotty. I was eager to collaborate with people from different artistic backgrounds and much of the fun - and challenge - of the class came from discovering organic synergies between disparate media. Ultimately, I think my purpose here is to help the audience rethink their understanding of something just enough that they find themselves gently stranded in the familiar.”


“Sinking has been a beautiful process of developing my original style with my partner, Ankit, while iQuartet has allowed me to think to the future on possible new electronic mediums in music.”


“For my duo and froup projects it was always interesting to see how intuitive or how laborious it is to meld different people's ideas together. The sudden moment when the piece you develop triggers that simultaneous excited nod of approval and "yea! that works!" is eternally addicting.”


“My favorite ideas came from misinterpretations of initial thoughts and the failures that happened in practice performances. They also came from the skills of my talented partners, including improvisation, skill in varied musical styles, spatial sensibility, and a focus on audience interaction. This in turn made me step out of my own comfort zone of voice and theater to compose music, write lyrics, create film, and construct an overall narrative that was both consistent and surprising.”


“All my life, music set the context for everything to me--films, stories, and even pictures.  However, in learning how to approach different disciplines by interweaving music with motion and sight--not just putting them together, but actually creating the material which we weave--I can now appreciate music in the context of other art forms, and appreciate other art forms for what they uniquely are.”


“I've learned that collaboration best begins with a no-restrictions brainstorming session to discover a range of ideas.  The process then becomes a distillation of these ideas, threading the needle and weaving a tapestry of multimodal elements.  The result is more than you could do yourself.”


“I have thoroughly enjoyed the collaboration and experimentation in this class.  Every rehearsal I attended with my peers was filled with surprises and revelations as we dove into our projects and adopted various ideas and suggestions after trying them out and seeing what worked or not.  The spontaneity and wealth of perspectives inherent in this process was unique and extremely rewarding.”


“As a composer collaborating with other artists for the first time, I realized I was too dogmatic about creativity stemming from the vision of one mind. While there is some satisfaction in being able to control the finished product fully, I find that collaboration enables promising ideas, spurred by the group's imagination, to be brought forth quickly.”


“Before this class, I had never done experimental performance.  As far as singing went, I stuck to the book.  This class forced me to push my limits and literally create something out of nothing. It’s amazing what can develop from the initially specific creative ideas each performer brings to the table. I never knew I was that creative.”


“What has struck me the most about the work in this class has been how accidents and experiments can lead to amazing discoveries.  Almost all of our iQuartet developed through simply messing around and stumbling upon things that we found fascinating.  It showed me once again that the creative and collaborative process can be so much fun.”