Storyteller, artists and Jacobs School musicians celebrate beauty of Brown County at event

Guest post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Emily Davis:

Think of tonight’s event at the Brown County Playhouse as one continuous piece of artwork.

Frank Hohenberger photographed the Brown County Playhouse, the venue for tonight’s event.

Inspired by Frank Hohenberger’s iconic early 20th century photographs of Brown County, local artists, a storyteller and musicians from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music have teamed up to showcase new and old works that celebrate the beauty of the region.

The Brown County Playhouse, Project Jumpstart and Jacobs School students developed this innovative collaborative project as a way of debuting new music while simultaneously linking existing forms of art to a common theme.

“Impressions of Brown County: An Evening of Art, Music and Storytelling” starts at 7:30 p.m. March 12 at the Brown County Playhouse. Tickets for the event, available at the Brown County Playhouse Box Office, are $12 or $8 for students, seniors and members of the military.

Multi-faceted experience

For the main event, the ensembles New Voices Opera and Novacane Quartet will perform four new pieces written by Jacobs School composers as a direct response to the Hohenberger photographs. The compositions were written by Louis Goldford, Curtis Smith, Matthew Recio and Javier Ledesma.

Hohenberger sought to capture all aspects of life in Brown County. This photograph of a barn during winter was captured in 1929.

“I am very excited that the whole event is about Brown County,” said Alain Barker, director of entrepreneurship and career development at the Jacobs School of Music. “Often when you put on a concert, it features incredible music but it doesn’t necessarily relate to the specific physical environment, whereas this concert is all about the identity of Brown County and how artists respond to it.”

The program will begin with the two ensembles playing older pieces of music alongside projected images of the selected photographs. During the debut of the new compositions, paintings selected from the Brown County Art Gallery will be projected. The selected pieces are by Brown County art students Karena Sarber, Andi Bartels and Natalie Van Zuiden.

The music and artwork will be woven together by storyteller Paul Whitehouse. As narrator, he will tell stories of Brown County and describe the new compositions.

Artistic haven

Hohenberger was a reporter and photographer who spent 47 years of his life documenting the natural scenes and customs of Brown County.

Barn Painting

Tom Tuley, a local Brown County artist painted a barn similar to Hohenberger’s photograph.

While not originally from the area, Hohenberger photographed thousands of images between 1904 and 1948 that represent the beauty of Southern Indiana. His photographs were often featured alongside his popular Indianapolis Star column titled, “Down in the Hills o’ Brown County.”

Composers involved in the event also found inspiration in the beauty of the hills of Brown County. They were tasked with viewing the photographs and creating music that came to them as a result of the content of the images.

Even though the majority of the artists have only visited Brown County on several occasions, they recognized it as a place where music and art could flourish.

Hohenberger collection

The entire collection of original Hohenberger photographs is archived in the Indiana University Lilly Library. More than 9,000 of the photographs have been digitized and are available online as the Frank M. Hohenberger Photograph Collection.

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