Jeffrey Jamner, the Kentucky Center’s director of education and community arts, clicks play on a classical music video on YouTube. An orchestra launches into a piece with a heavy downbeat and labored tone — almost sounding as if they are slowly walking uphill while playing.
“This movement grows and grows and it becomes bigger and heavier and you feel that effort and, you know, I just imagine these wooden wheels going through mud,” Jamner says, pushing away from his desk and leaning back in his computer chair. “So with only the title and this music, what will the students come up with?”
That piece, called “Byldo” (Polish for “cattle”) is by the famed Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky; it’s from a larger composition called “Pictures at an Exhibition,” in which there are 10 movements inspired by specific pieces of real artwork.
Five of the artworks that inspired the piece are still in circulation; five have been lost to history.
And now, students grades 8-12 are invited to look at the names and listen to recordings of the five movements based on those lost pieces — including “Byldo” — and submit artwork inspired by one of them.
Here is a full list:
The Gnome – “A sketch depicting a little gnome, clumsily running with crooked legs.”
The Old Castle – “A medieval castle before which a troubadour sings a song.”
Tuileries – “Children’s quarrel after games.”
Byldo – “Polish cart on enormous wheels, drawn by oxen.”
Limoges. The Market (The Great News) – “French women quarrelling violently in the market.”
Five prizes will be awarded, one for each of the movements.
“And the winners’ works will be projected 15 feet tall in Whitney Hall in front of an audience of a thousand or more accompanied by music that inspired their art,” Jamner says. “It’s very unique.”
This will take place during the “Gheens Great Expectations” concert by the Louisville Orchestra and Louisville Youth Orchestra on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.
The winning artworks and honorable mention pieces will be exhibited at The Kentucky Center along with a reception in the Mary Anderson Room following the concert.
“We never want to overlook great talent in our own backyard,” Jamner says.
More information about the contest is available here. The deadline for entry is January 10.