In BYU Arts and BRAVO!, Guest Artists, School of Music

Think of the climax in your favorite movie. As the tide turned in an epic battle or when the romance was finally mutual, powerful music undoubtedly swelled behind the triumph. Such synergy between music and other media is not found only in films. You can enjoy plenty of it this September 24 to 26 during events that surround WRENCH, a concert by Amsterdam-based ensemble Hexnut.

The concert features seven new compositions inspired by and choreographed with the images of photographer Edward Burtynsky.  Steve Ricks, an associate professor of composition at BYU, helped coordinate the multimedia event, that fuses the photography of Burtynsky, the musical talents of the Amsterdam-based group Hexnut, and music specially written for them by composers from around the world, including Ricks himself. The artwork of Burtynsky and the music of Hexnut are both striking when experienced separately, but combined they create a uniquely moving experience.

Two lectures by guest composers, a pre-concert reception in the BYU Museum of Art where Burtynsky’s work is on display, and a screening of the documentary film Manufactured Landscapes at BYU International Cinema are ALL free events as part of a showcase around the concert.

The Artwork of Edward Burtynsky

The Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky focuses his work on imagery that “explores the intricate link between industry and nature” and that features “highly expressive visions that find beauty and humanity in the most unlikely of places.” Such unlikely places include scenes from Chinese poultry manufacturing plants, mining sites and rock quarries, all shot from expansive perspectives.

“I think Burtynsky’s art is just so striking and interesting at a gut level,” Ricks said. “It’s so pertinent to life as we know it right now and the issues that our planet is dealing with.”

The exhibition Edward Burtynsky: The Industrial Sublime, currently on display in the BYU MOA, provides an excellent opportunity for patrons to examine the extent human footprint across the world. Burtynsky’s photography prompts the thoughtful observer to consider the effects of global industrialization and the role of each member of the human race on these developments.

The Music of Hexnut

Hexnut, a contemporary band formed by Ned McGowan in 2004, features an eclectic lineup, including flute, contrabass flute, trumpet, piano, several recorders and a mezzo-soprano vocalist. Playing pieces specially written for them by contemporary composers, the band performs with a theatrical flair that is anything but predictable.

“Hexnut is kind of a unique, quirky ensemble,” Ricks said. “[Being eclectic] is a characteristic of a lot of chamber groups in Amsterdam just because they have a really thriving arts community and music community.”

Hexnut spearheaded the collaborative project WRENCH, for which eight composers were commissioned to write music inspired by one or several of Burtynsky’s photographic works. Hexnut couples these compositions in concert with projected images of Burtynsky to create a unique multimedia experience.

“It wouldn’t be like the music was background to the images or that the images were just wallpaper to the music,” Ricks said of the concert’s balance. “There would be a dynamic relationship between the two [when] presented in a concert setting.”

One of The Aims of a BYU Education is to have an “intellectually enlarging” experience. The unusual sounds employed by Hexnut allow listeners to not only have a taste of innovative European music, but also experience its convergence with the stunning photographic art of Burtynsky.

Collaboration Events

The three-day Burtynsky Collaboration event, taking place September 24-26, will feature many other opportunities for participants to gain exposure to unique international music and art.

Tuesday’s events include a lecture by WRENCH composer Seung-Ah Oh about her work and a screening of a documentary about Edward Burtynsky, entitled Manufacturing Landscapes. The screening will be presented by the BYU International Cinema and will be preceded by a discussion led by BYU Humanities Professor Chip Oscarson. The Seung-Ah Oh lecture will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. in E-400 HFAC, and the documentary screening will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in 250 SWKT.

Wednesday features the WRENCH multimedia concert experience by Hexnut with projected images of Edward Burtynsky, which will start at 7:30 p.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall. Concertgoers are also invited to a pre-concert reception in the Lower Level of the Museum of Art, which will include in-gallery discussions about works by Burtynsky.

The events will conclude on Thursday with a Barlow Lecture by guest composer and flutist Ned McGowan. The lecture will be from 3 to 5 p.m. in E-400 HFAC.

For more information, contact Steve Ricks at or 801-422-6115.

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