Tang, SPAC honor gallery owner by gathering creatives to create a song

Tang, SPAC honor gallery owner by gathering creatives to create a song

   Hudson, a New York City gallerist known only by his last name, was one of the most well-known names in the New York arts scene in the 21st century. Through his gallery, Feature Inc.,  Hudson debuted a number of artists who went on to become big names. After his death in 2014, his gallery was shut down as he wished that only he run it.  

   To honor him, the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center collaborated to produce a world-premiere piece of recorded music, the result of what can only be seen as an arts trifecta.  

   The Tang, working with the Hancock Shaker Museum,  had put together an exhibit featuring only artists who were represented by Feature Inc. 

  Inspired by that art, the Tang, SPAC and the Academy of American Poets jointly commissioned writings from a number of contemporary poets. The list included Hanif Abdurraqib, April Bernard, Nickole Brown, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Claudia Castro Luna, Victoria Chang, Forrest Gander, Ilya Kaminsky, Eileen Myles, Francine Prose, and TC Tolbert.  

    Their work was then passed on to award-winning composer Kenneth Frazelle who, with the help of a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and Charles and Candace Wait, set the piece to music. 

   Frazelle took the poetry, which, while beautiful, was lengthy. He worked on the pieces, making them suitable for performance. He chipped away at them, selecting passages that he knew would go well with the music.  

   “A big challenge to the project was trying to get inside of these poems and extract what I felt represented them to the best of my ability. It's always a challenge when you have to tear something down like that,” he said.  

   He then passed his work on to Lindsay Kesselman, a soprano who brought not just her voice, but also her passion for contemporary music to the project and Sandbox, a Brooklyn-based chamber music and percussion group.  

    The end result was “Energy in All Directions,” a composition by Frazelle, performed by Kesselman and Sandbox. It was filmed at the Tang, in the presence of the very artworks that inspired the poetry being performed.  

    “It just made for such a dynamic project,” said Kesselman. “And we premiered the piece in an art museum where the audience could be looking at the pieces of art that inspired the poetry that then inspired the music. I especially love … seeing music that is dramatically inspired and allows the audience to really connect on an emotional level. And I think this piece does a really brilliant job of allowing for that.” 

   “Energy in All Directions” premiered on the Tang’s website this week. The performance can be viewed at https://tang.skidmore.edu/exhibitions/276-energy-in-all-directions#performance

 This latest collaboration for the Tang is a part of their regional collections-sharing project, “All Together Now,” where they share art with a number of regional arts organizations.