[Skip to Content]
All Together Now

All Together Now

Every two years, Denison hosts the Tutti Original Works Festival, a three-day extravaganza of arts that takes its name from the Italian term meaning “all together.” The festival debuts new music compositions, performances, and art from students, faculty, alumni, and a pool of submissions from around the world.

The festival, founded by Professor of Music Ching-chu Hu in 2004, fosters collaboration across disciplines, and that was evident in Mulberry Lab and in the lobby of Burke Hall in March when the walls were adorned with prints from students in a printmaking course taught by Ron Abram, associate professor of studio art. Their assignment? Take a piece of original music from a TUTTI composer and reflect upon it through art. “Symbiosis and First Listen are exhibitions that speak not only to the intertwined relationship between music and visual art, but also to the central context of studying and creating here at Denison,” says Abram. 

Denison Magazine wanted to take that creative process a bit further. Just as the students were asked to listen, reflect, and create, we asked the composers to look back at the art their music brought to life.

Photographs by Jihyun Kim ’16

Composition:

Lemonade Toccata

by Jordan Kuspa

From the artist:

“Prior to the completion of this piece, I had become attached to a particular image in a magazine of a woman who held her own face in her hands. The idea of what goes on beneath the skin stuck with me. I started to play with the juxtaposition of citrus fruits and these ‘faceless’ faces. In the description of an orchestral piece with marimba, composed by Kuspa, the composer asks, ‘Have you ever made a battery out of a lemon?’ The idea of common objects and concepts having lesser-known uses paired nicely with the aforementioned theme of ‘what’s beneath the surface.’ The skull imagery recognized the darker parts of the song, while the lemon eyes reflected its playful energy.”

Becca Plank ’15, a psychology major from Knoxville, Tenn.

From the composer:

“Many of my pieces have been inspired by visual arts, so it was a treat to see the response of a visual artist to my music. When I saw Becca’s work, I was reminded of Andy Warhol’s technicolor silk-screen prints, so often presented in quadruplicate. However, I was surprised by the imagery of skulls, as I never thought of my piece as sinister in any way. After some thought, I realized that the tone of the marimba can sound dry or brittle, and it isn’t hard to imagine skeletons dancing to the music.”

Jordan Kuspa, a doctoral student in music arts at Yale and a faculty member at Richland College in Dallas, Texas

From the composer:

“Many of my pieces have been inspired by visual arts, so it was a treat to see the response of a visual artist to my music. When I saw Becca’s work, I was reminded of Andy Warhol’s technicolor silk-screen prints, so often presented in quadruplicate. However, I was surprised by the imagery of skulls, as I never thought of my piece as sinister in any way. After some thought, I realized that the tone of the marimba can sound dry or brittle, and it isn’t hard to imagine skeletons dancing to the music.”

Jordan Kuspa, a doctoral student in music arts at Yale and a faculty member at Richland College in Dallas, Texas

Composition:

The Swash of Water and Red

by Ching-chu Hu

From the artist:

“My print is inspired by the first part of The Swash of Water and Red, ‘Swash I: Icy, Silent Morn.’ The first time I listened to the piece, I was immediately struck by the similarities between it and my own roots in Irish fiddle. I was reminded of the loneliness that my favorite Irish aria always brought to mind. ‘Icy, Silent Morn’ brought to mind images of empty, sweeping hills and wide, open skies. As the piece progressed into Chinese-influenced sound, I felt liberated from the vast solitude of the beginning of the piece, as the sounds began to rise above it.”

Abbie Thill ’16, a women’s and gender studies major from Minneapolis, Minn.

From the composer:

“What I really appreciate seeing in Abbie’s work is the sense of coldness. In this movement, I try to capture a sense of loneliness in a vast landscape, in wind, and in the motion of the sounds— and she has represented that beautifully.”

Ching-chu Hu, composer and Denison professor of music

Composition:

Long Distance

by Steven Snowden

From the artist:

“The electronic pops and clicks within the piece drew me to it. When I later learned that these sounds were actually the sounds of ‘hacked’ pay phones from various locations throughout the U.S., I was intrigued further. It was interesting to learn about the phone phreaking community in the 1970s, and it made me think of the issues we face with computer hacking in the 21st century. The various software applications that come into play for human communication purposes can now easily be hacked through advancing technology. In addition, information can now be pulled easily across oceans, which I have tried to convey through my piece.”

Shivani Mithbaokar ’16, a studio art major from Mumbai, India

From the composer:

“The concept for the music has to do with analog telephone systems in the 1970s, and I think Shivani has highlighted an aspect of this that is intrinsic to this subject, even though I had not initially considered it when composing the piece. Her work reveals the kind of recursive and redundant nature of long-distance communication that was true then and still is today. Patterns emerge from mass amounts of seemingly random data to reveal a world in which physical distance is largely overcome by virtual interconnectivity.”

Steven Snowden, a composer who recently returned to Austin, Texas, after a year at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where he was a visiting professor and composer

Composition:

Mnemosyne

by Joseph Rebman

From the artist:

“Mnemosyne paints an image of nature and splendor, and evokes a sense of serenity, curiosity, and nostalgia, all of which I tried to capture in my work. The song is titled after the Greek goddess Mnemosyne, who is the goddess of memory and the mother of the Muses. With this in mind, I tried to incorporate elements of Greek art in my image, such as the woman’s structured facial features and her head wreath. 

The song resonated with me because I studied classical music throughout my high school career and played the violin in my school’s chamber orchestra. Although there is no violin present in the piece, the classical chords and musical progression are reminiscent of the types of pieces I explored as a violinist. The song itself elicited my own feelings of nostalgia for my days as a musician.”

Kelsey McCormick ’17, an economics major

 

From the composer:

“I had a wonderful time visiting Denison University, and getting to meet Kelsey McCormick was a wonderful surprise! Her artwork response to my piece Mnemosyne is a wonderful work, beautifully capturing the ancient Greek air I was trying to elicit when writing my piece.”

Joseph Rebman, a composer and harpist currently pursuing a master’s degree in composition at the University of Oklahoma

Composition:

The Capacity of Calm Endurance

by Mary Ellen Childs

From the artist:

“I’ve created a woodcut/etching that doesn’t express calm endurance. Similar to the girl in this print, I often experience the emotion and physical sensation of being pulled down by an unidentified weight. But beyond this dark and dooming experience, there is a certain peace that comes with letting oneself sink and look upward to the surface of the sea.”

Liz Rosenkranz ’17, a cinema and studio art double major from Dayton, Ohio

From the composer:

“‘The Capacity of Calm Endurance,’ like much of my music, grapples with fascinating paradoxes, and I love the way this etching captures the compatibility of seeming opposites. Looking at this artwork, I see both motion and stillness, weightedness and floating, and the gradations of blues are at once cool and soothingly warm.”

Mary Ellen Childs, TUTTI guest composer

Composition:

Amor

by Scott Anthony Shell

From the artist:

“Amor’s hypnotic ease is juxtaposed with a bit of disquiet. The music evokes a sense of movement akin to meandering gently through an indefinite space. At intervals, a pause offers time to stop and gaze in wonderment in an unfamiliar setting before continuing on with nervous excitement and escorted by the doubts and marvels of the unknown. The musical composition was inspired by a Spanish poem of the same name, so the print pays homage to the poetess, Delmira Augustini. Inspired by Augustini’s personal story, and by the sensations aroused in the musical version of Amor, the print deals with the ideas of mystery, ambiguity, and movement in an improvisational way. It could be likened to my 39-day, 500-mile walk of discovery along the Camino Francés de Santiago de Compostela, where feelings of wonder and apprehension were the underlying current of each day. The experience continues to be a well of profound emotions from which I draw. My ongoing studies of the universe, its vastness and uncertainty, are a more recent inspiration.”

Debra Joyce Dawson, community scholar, Pataskala, Ohio

From the composer:

“I really feel Debra’s work captures the dream references around which the poem Amor revolves, as well as the dreaminess of the music. There is an ethereal, ghostlike quality to the portrait of the poet, who died tragically young. The swirling mass above her head, to me, represents her dreams.”

Scott Anthony Shellclassical music composer

Composition: 

Sanctuary to Sea

by Andrew Cole

From the Artist:

“I was inspired by the juxtaposition of natural sounds—birdcalls and waves—to the heavily synthesized sounds within Sanctuary to Sea. It reminded me of the struggle found between the natural and man-made, and in our internal struggles between who we are and who we think we are. I tried to recreate this conflict through the juxtaposition of the bird wings and the albatross skull. As I approach graduation this spring and move away from Denison, I’m working to find my identity and my sense of self.”

Brittany Kirch ’15, a geosciences major from Midland, Mich.

From the composer:

“Sanctuary to Sea is a very personal work really, about my experiences hiking in Wellington, New Zealand, and the unique landscapes and birds there. Brittany definitely got it and responded better than I could have myself. What I find most interesting about her work is that it brings to mind birds both as otherworldly creatures of song and flight and as fragile creatures that often depend on ocean and coastal ecosystems to survive.”

Andrew Cole, a composer living and working in the Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C., area