Artistically Fit

Undergraduate music class plans interactive concert

Interior of the Moody Music Concert Hall

The University’s first active listening concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on April 11 in the concert hall of Moody Music Building. The event is free and open to the public.

The University of Alabama School of Music hosts hundreds of concerts each year in the Moody Music Building, featuring a wide spectrum of musicians and musical styles. The variety of genres and diversity of performers is great — but a concert held this month promises to bring something new to the mix.

While a typical School of Music concert assumes the time-honored relationship between audience and performance — musicians play, and audience members listen — the Active Listening Concert, scheduled for April 11, turns that traditional format on its head by inviting audience members to hear and learn about music in a new, interactive way.

Developed by two undergraduate music students, Jeremy Conner and Lee Decker, under the direction of music professor Dr. Scott Bridges, the concert will break down a single well-known work — “Amazing Grace” — into its various components. Audience members will hear, in separate segments, the instruments involved in the piece.

“The point of this Active Listening Concert is to introduce people to different elements of music,” Conner said.  Soloists and ensembles will perform different portions of “Amazing Grace” separately to highlight musical elements such as melody, harmony, and rhythm.

“The groups performing will bring something that’s familiar to them, and likewise familiar to the audience, and they will perform that as an element of music. We’re looking at it as a cognitive process,” Bridges said.

At the conclusion of the concert, all of the groups will gather on the stage for a full rendition of “Amazing Grace.” Bridges said he hoped that by singling out and then combining the individual elements of the song, his class will be able to present the audience with a “fuller, richer, more dynamic and emotional experience.”

Conner, a freshman music major, said that he and Decker reached out to undergraduate music classes as they began developing the concert. “We put together a focus group and tried to learn what they would like to hear in a concert,” he said. From there, the two students managed every detail of planning and promoting the concert, from selecting musicians to printing programs.

Decker, a senior music major, said that it was important to select musicians who weren’t normally featured in Moody. “Our goal was to take student musicians from outside the School of Music and incorporate them into the concert as the performers,” he said.

Bridges said he believes this sort of hands-on experience with concert production is valuable to student musicians. “This is all preparation for when they walk out the door,” he said. “The hope is that students see that they can do these things [when they graduate].”

The Active Listening Concert will be held on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in the Moody Music Building’s Concert Hall.