Art meets music at PHS

Kaitie Read and Nikki DeVenny pose by artwork before the band concert began. (Contributed)

Kaitie Read and Nikki DeVenny pose by artwork before the band concert began. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Pelham High School’s most recent band concert came to life in an entirely new way thanks to PHS Assistant Director of Bands Justin Ward’s research and the hard work and artistic strides of many PHS students and teachers.

“I wanted to collaborate with other members of the Fine Arts Department. When I found composer Samuel Hazo’s wind band composition entitled ‘Blue and Green Music,’ based on artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting of the same name, I knew the time was right,” said Ward. “O’ Keeffe wanted to visually illustrate music. Hazo wanted to aurally represent O’Keeffe’s visual representation—and we wanted to expound on O’ Keeffe and Hazo’s work.”

“The other art teachers and I were thrilled when Justin sent us his collaboration idea,” said Kim Harrison, PHS Fine Arts Department chair. “We brainstormed and decided on some ideas for the art 2, art 3, AP art and advanced photo classes to work on. Students studied the work and life of Georgia O’Keeffe. The photography classes took a field trip to the botanical gardens to recreate her floral close-ups. Everyone worked together.”

Ward’s commitment to excellence and attention to detail took him above and beyond the call of duty. He focused on perfecting the musical interpretation of O’Keeffe’s art.

“I consulted the composer about the collaboration and communicated with him about the musical interpretation. He applauded our collaboration,” said Ward.

Synesthesia means a mixing up of the senses—to hear a color or taste a sound. With the collaboration of artists and musicians at PHS, seeing music and hearing art became a reality.

“This experience created a unique interaction between our faculty and students. Students discussed their work and took ownership in the creative process,” said Ward.

“I have a greater appreciation for my colleagues and what they do for our students. I also see that our students have endless potential for creativity. I look forward to collaborating with other members of the faculty as we move forward,” said Ward.

The New Year looks incredibly bright for Pelham High School’s Fine Arts.