What kind of talent does it take to write books, paint, compose music and then bring it all together for one splendid evening in Lubbock? Well, lots of talent and lots of collaborations between artistic minds working together to create an extraordinary evening for the 75th Anniversary of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra.
I was lucky enough to sit down with a few of these collaborators to hear the story of how a book has inspired a composition for a symphony and a visual art display at a local gallery. The story was shared with me by Christopher J. Oglesby (author and artist), D. J. Sparr (Grammy winning Lubbock-based composer), Galen Wixson (CEO of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra) and David Cho (Conductor of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra). This group has also engaged the talents of Hannah Jackson, Larry Simmons, Curtis People and Kelly Reyna.
In 2006, Oglesby published a book titled Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music in which Oglesby profiled many of the brilliant musicians who have been catapulted from the plains of West Texas. After the book was published, a young composer named D. J. Sparr who had just landed in Lubbock read it and the stories and material stuck with him.
Meanwhile, the author, Oglesby, left a legal career and Lubbock for Austin to begin to create art full-time primarily painting. Oglesby became an established and well-known painter and many of his pieces feature musicians who he knew from his time in Lubbock (Joe Ely, Bobby Keys and Amanda Shires to name a few).
As the 75th Anniversary of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra crept up, Galen Wixson, the CEO of the Lubbock Symphony reached out to longtime friend Sparr to compose a unique piece for the celebration of the opening of the Masterworks season. Sparr knew immediately what would inspire his composition …the book he had read as a new citizen of Lubbock Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends of West Texas Music. Sparr reached out to the author of the book and asked Oglesby for his blessing to use it to build an original composition around.
Oglesby agreed, and planning began for an extraordinary and special night. It didn’t end there, in addition to the concert which will debut the new work titled “Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: A Symphony of Songs” there will be a pop-up exhibit held beginning November 5 (First Friday Art Trail in November) and running through the night of the concert (November 12). The exhibit will feature approximately 20 pieces by Oglesby featuring some well-known Lubbock musicians and will be held in Grey Edges Studio and Gallery (1614 Mac Davis Lane). Lubbock artists Kelly Reyna (owner of Grey Edges) and Larry Simmons (owner of Tornado Industrial Arts) have helped Oglesby coordinate the exhibit to feature his visual artwork. There will be a post-concert reception at Grey Edges immediately following the concert on November 12.
At the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences, the concert will happen as the opening of the Masterworks series on Friday November 12. Before the concert, there will be a dinner, “Overtures”, during which patrons can hear the composer, author, and maestro speak about the work in preparation to hear this extraordinary music.
The audience can expect a unique experience with components bridging the gap between the electric guitar and the symphony. This will be an “out of the box” and extraordinary piece featuring vocals by one of Lubbock’s favorite performing artists, Hannah Jackson and the Lubbock Chorale. It will be a one-of-a-kind composition and Cho and Wixson agreed that the symphony musicians are excited about the performance – a fitting way to kick off a 75th Anniversary Season.
Followers of Lubbock music understand that what makes Lubbock unique is the diversity of sounds, but also the collaboration of creatives. This composition along with the unique activities and events surrounding it achieve a one-of-a-kind cohesiveness of the creative spirit.
To make plans to attend the events: please check out the First Friday Art Trail (www.lhuca.org) November 5 and purchase your tickets to both the “Overtures” event and the concert through the website of the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra at www.lubbocksymphony.org. Oglesby’s book will also be available at the events at Grey Edges and more information about the author and artist may be found at his website www.prettycoolart.com.