There’s an instrument that transcends the line between classical and jazz, old and new, that can elicit deep passion or a soothing backdrop to a situation. It’s been featured in hit songs in genres from blues to rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s been caricatured as overly sensual by a shirtless Jon Hamm in anSNL Digital Short. I’m describing the saxophone, the instrument that’ll be featured prominently in Saturday’s installation concert “Over the Line,” a collaboration between the University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
“Over the Line”
December 6, 2014
University of Michigan Museum of Art
The sixth annual installation concert highlights four student-composed pieces, which will be performed by SMTD students in the galleries of UMMA. Each piece was composed with both the acoustic properties of the saxophone and the artistic venue in mind, to compliment the performance space as well as to offer the audience an interdisciplinary museum experience.
Lisa Borgsdorf, Manager of Public Programs at UMMA, is excited about the opportunity for music students to expand their creative process outside the classroom in this showcase.
“We’re giving students a space to step outside the traditional ways they might be working in a studio practice, and instead working towards a public performance in a museum setting, which is outside the norm for performances,” Borgsdorf said.
Making the saxophone the center of “Over the Line” was a choice influenced by several factors. The installation concert marks the 200th anniversary of the invention of the saxophone, by the eponymous Adolphe Sax, as well as honoring the retirement of Donald Sinta, Professor of Saxophone in SMTD, who is one of the world’s top classical performers of the instrument as well as a much loved University professor.
“Also, the saxophone just sounds really awesome in the museum spaces,” Borgsdorf said with a smile.
UMMA and SMTD have a longstanding collaboration, with the most recent student performances developing out of UMMA’s 2006-2009 renovations, which consequently gave more space in which to experiment with outside collaborators.
“One of the strategies for how we would enliven this new space was to work in partnerships with a number of different departments and organizations on campus to create programming for the museum,” Bergsdorf said. This plan has been successful in organizing unique performance content in UMMA, like ‘Over the Line.’”
“Over the Line” is unique in several ways, one of the reasons being that the installation concert is one of the only performances UMMA holds during museum hours, rather than after closing like most are. The structure of “Over the Line” is also non-linear, and audiences are urged to come any time during the performance and to explore the different galleries and student performers in whichever order they wish.
“This is just a completely different way to experience the galleries,” Borgsdorf said. “Being in a gallery where the music is being played in complete response to a work of art changes the way you interact with the art. (Over the Line) opens up new possibilities for how a person might connect to the art, and it’s pretty awesome to celebrate the talents that these students have, both the performers and the composers, and give them a showcase to experiment with.”