‘Joyful Noise’ features music and dance to poetry-inspired student compositions

April 7, 2017 | Janika Carey

Students and faculty in the music and dance programs will join forces at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 14, in Pannell Gallery. “Joyful Noise” features poetry-inspired compositions by Sweet Briar student Velocity Haigh ’18, as well as readings and musical and dance performances.

Joyful Noise cover

The concert is based on insect poems from Paul Fleischman’s book “Joyful Noise.”

The concert is based on insect poems from Paul Fleischman’s book “Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices.” Inspired by Fleischman’s poetry, Haigh has composed a suite of five short duets for various instruments and voices. The math and music double major from Tacoma, Wash., (re)discovered the poems not in an English class — as one might suspect — but in Guion Science Center.

“I was inspired and encouraged by [biology professor] Linda Fink. She brought Paul Fleischman’s poetry book to my attention — which, incidentally, I had read years before in my primary education,” Haigh says. “Each poem is written in two voices and therefore is inherently musical with its rhythm and timing. I attempted to draw this to the fore by exploring the nature of duality within each piece.”

Assistant professor of music Josh Harris calls the result “exciting and ambitious.” The compositions, brought to life by his students, will in some cases be accompanied by dance performances, which are also choreographed and performed by Sweet Briar students and faculty.

“The dances will be performed in association with the music in various ways; sometimes simultaneously, sometimes each part will be separate,” says professor of dance Ella Magruder. Her co-choreographers — seniors Alex Dagher and Vanessa Finnegan, junior Rachel Rogers and first-year Rachel Woods — have produced solo and group dances to Haigh’s compositions as well as to the poems themselves. Some of them will premiere during the Spring Dance Concert on April 7 and 8.

“There are insect dances of all sorts, including bees, water striders, cicadas, wasps, crickets, praying mantis and moths,” Magruder says, adding that Fink spoke to her students about the characteristics of the insects they are representing in their dances.

“This project is a true liberal arts collaboration between the arts, science and literature.”

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, email Harris at jharris@sbc.edu.

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