Art Inspired by Sound – FAE event combines painting and music

“Art Inspired by Sound” combined two different art forms in a performance at the Sue and Frank Mayborn Performing Arts Center on campus Thursday, Sept. 20. Piano music composed by UMHB’s Dean Kathryn Fouse of the College of Visual Arts accompanied projections of paintings inspired by her music. The artwork was painted to the sound of her music by Samford University’s Associate Dean and Professor of Art and Design Larry Thompson.
The piece performed was “The People United Will Never Be Defeated,” created by American composer Frederic Rzewski in 1975. It was heavily inspired by “El Pueblo Unido Jamás Será Vencido,” a Chilean revolutionary song written by Sergio Ortega. The music describes the events of June 1973, when Ortega witnessed a street singer yelling “the people united will never be defeated,” which is a “well-known Chilean chant for social change” ( According to the Rice article, the song was designed to be performed by a guitar ensemble and voices.
There were six sets of the song performed, each with six different variations of the song. To end the performance, the introductory sounds returned, bringing the piece full circle. Fouse, who has performed at venues such as the World Piano Conference in Novi Sad, Serbia, and the soundscape New Music Festival in Maccagno, Italy, never seemed to waver as she played beautiful melodies, and her passion was definitely brought into the performance.
Andrew Ortega, a Fort Hood resident, was an attendee at the event.
“My favorite part was when the pianist was playing …. toward the end of the presentation,” Ortega said, “and the music began to swell with emotion and the pianist was so invested in the piece it seemed to move her emotionally.”
Thompson described how his painting process worked to fit in conjunction with the musical piece.
“I spent hours with headphones on, listening to the color of the sounds, the moments of emphasis, and instances of transitions in sound,” Thompson said.
“Pages of my sketchbook were filled with thumbnail sketches and ideas of how to layer a painting based on what I was hearing on a formal level.”
He took pictures of each transition of his artwork to fit the timing of Fouse’s playing. The paintings were abstract and minimalist, although Thompson would not label himself as that kind of artist because he believes in the ideology that, as he said, “art… should be what it needs to be, given the message to be communicated.” Thompson’s works have been featured across the globe and in the United States.
Belton resident Jessica Ortega said that she and her husband made a date night out of the event because they enjoy attending community events.
“I think as we have always attended classical shows of sorts, we were expecting somewhat of an introduction, history and background of the musicperformed and shown on the screen,” Jessica Ortega said. “I really loved seeing the transition between pieces. But I think my husband and I really enjoyed the pianist. The fluidity, showmanship and clarity of how she played the piano for over an hour straight was incredible. The variation of pieces performed were wonderful.”
Andrew Ortega changed some of his expectations while at the concert.
“I was expecting a live visual artist creating art that was inspired by the music that was being played by the pianist at the same time,” Andrew Ortega said. “My expectations were changed…..when the presentation began, and I realized that the art that was inspired by the music was created before the event.”
Laura Beverly a junior history major, compared the event to the Disney movie “Fantasia.” She said her imagination was inspired as she listened to the music, creating story lines in her mind.

Author: Sarah Ifft

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