Three-day event features multi-media concert, panel discussion


ENTERPRISE — Three nonprofit arts organizations in Wallowa County are teaming up to explore the “Geography of Music” and other arts.

The theme of this year’s Summer Arts Classic isn’t out of the ordinary for one of the participating  groups. Fishtrap is an organization grounded in the concept of place.

“That’s really at the core of what we do here at Fishtrap,” said Shannon McNerney, executive director of the nonprofit whose tagline is Writing and the West.

The writing organization is working in full partnership with the Wallowa Valley Music Alliance and Josephy Center for Arts and Culture.

The idea is to bring attention to three organizations that work year-round to promote the arts, said event coordinator and WVMA Board Secretary Bob Webb.

Webb said he hopes events like this will help put Wallowa County on the map, so to speak.

“People come for the fishing, camping and hiking,” Webb said. “We want tourists to know they can also come here for really good music performances and workshops.”

Day 1: Opening reception

The Josephy Center, 403 N. Main St., Joseph, will host a free opening reception on Aug. 24. The event begins with a social hour at 6 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

“This will be a chance to preview the weekend’s activities and promote Friday night’s concert,” said Cheryl Coughlan, executive director of the Josephy Center.

Coughlan said the public can meet the artists who are participating in the Summer Arts Classic and ask them questions.

Those in attendance can also view the Josephy Center’s current exhibit, “Wilderness & Sublimity: Photography and the Conservation of Hells Canyon.” The exhibit features photographs of Snake River through the canyon. Some of the photos on display in the gallery will also be shown during the concert.

As a taste of what’s to come, there will be a short musical performance complemented by an author’s reading.

Day 2: Multi-media concert

Coughlan said Friday’s concert is the event that ties everything together.

“Photos from (Josephy’s) current exhibition will be illuminated in a slideshow to the rhythm of the concert, while artists create pieces on the spot based on what they hear,” she said.

Mark Eubanks, a former principal bassoonist of the Oregon Symphony who retired to Northeast Oregon a few years ago, is the creative music director for the multi-media concert.

Eubanks selected the pieces that will be performed, including an original composition of his own.

He also selected the performers, who come from Portland, Boise, Idaho, and Walla Walla, Washington.

Webb said the WVMA received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust that allowed Eubanks to seek performers from a variety of different places. In past years, Webb said, the performers were mostly local.

Eubanks has invited connections from his time with the Oregon Symphony, the Seattle Opera and Seattle Symphony, the Walla Walla Symphony and the Oregon East Symphony of Pendleton.

As the pieces are performed, Fishtrap Program Manager Mike Midlo will narrate.

“Mike will be the tour guide, which is what we’re calling the narrator,” Webb said. “He will take us through the musical and actual terrain.”

Midlo will provide descriptions of the music and photographs being projected. He will also explain how they tie into “Geography of Music.”

Midlo will also read a poem by photographer and writer Ellen Bishop, according to Eubanks.

Finally, two artists will create works in front of the audience during the concert.

Rodd Ambroson, who is known in Wallowa County for his sculpting, will paint a reaction to what he hears. Ambroson will create during the suite from Stravinsky’s “Soldier’s Tale.”

“The piece was written as a reaction to World War I,” Eubanks said. “It takes the position of a soldier coming back from war.”

He said artist Sam Collett will be painting a portrait of the musicians playing Mozart.

Webb said the works that are created during the concert will be sold through a silent auction. The funds raised will be seed money for next year’s Summer Arts Classic.

The multi-media concert is the only portion of the three-day event that has an admission fee. The cost is $20 for general admission, $15 for seniors and free for children ages 18 and younger.

“One of our main goals with the Music Alliance is to introduce good music — no matter the style — to the youth in our community,” Webb said. “That’s why the show’s free for kids.”

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Enterprise Christian Church, 85035 Joseph Hwy. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Eubanks said the church itself “enjoys a beautiful setting,” as it looks upon the mountains.

The musician said the longest piece is 25 minutes, which is relatively short in the world of classical music.

“This would be good for a family,” he said. “It’s not too long, and there will be photos and painters entertaining the audience while we are playing. There are things to look at, lots of moving parts.”

Day 3: Panel discussion

The three-day event concludes with a panel discussion at 10 a.m. Aug. 26 at Fishtrap House, 400 E. Grant St., Enterprise.

The panel is made up of Eubanks, writer Amy Zahm and photographer Kendrick Moholt.

McNerney, who is leading the panel, will act as a bridge between the artists, as she has experience with all three types of art.

“I have a background in classical music; my father was a professional photographer, so I grew up with that; and books have always been my best friends, and now they’re my career,” she said.

The discussion will examine the ways in which different types of artists react to place.

“We’re going to talk about how place inspires art and how different artistic genres incorporate their settings,” McNerney said. “On the flip side, I’d be curious to see how art can save a place (similar to the Josephy Center’s ongoing exhibition of photography and conservation).”

McNerney said that written and visual art may often handle place in an obvious way.

“In writing, place is used almost as a character, and in photography it’s the subject,” she said. “Music compositions may be more subtle, but musicians can certainly still conjur images through their music.”

Midlo said it will be interesting to hear how a musician interprets place through melodies compared to a writer’s words or an artist’s visual representations.

The free morning event will include coffee, tea and snacks.

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