By SPCO Education Manager Eleanor Owens GrandPre
Building on the momentum established during last year's debut, 2017.18 marks the second year of CONNECTion Virtual Visits between The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra's CONNECT program and Liquid Music. Serving over 5,500 students, the CONNECT program engages students in grades 1-5 in twelve partnering Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools. The program is completely free of charge for these schools and provides supplementary music education resources to students with curriculum and support for teachers. The educational resources are paired with SPCO musician visits to each of the participating schools and culminates with a live orchestra concert, curated specifically to bring to life the year's curriculum and theme. The feedback from the schools in our annual evaluations increasingly indicates that teachers are looking for more performances for their students. CONNECTion Virtual Visits provide a special way to introduce students to living artists while engaging them with performances right in their own classroom.
This year’s collaboration features Minneapolis-based Bharatanatyam dancer/choreographer Ashwini Ramaswamy and composer/DJ/author Jace Clayton. Ramaswamy is celebrated for her ability to “[weave] together, both fearfully and joyfully, the human and the divine” (New York Times), and Clayton has been described as a “pan-global, post-everything superhero” (Wire). Ramaswamy and Clayton are this season’s Virtual Artists in Residence for Liquid Music and the students and teachers in the CONNECT program are thrilled to be virtually introduced and captivated by their art.
Using a shared love of literature and interest in artistically exploring social memory, the two artists will develop an original work for its World Premiere in Liquid Music's 2018.19 season. This type of collaboration is a first for both of them. Students in CONNECT’s twelve participating schools will be introduced to these artists through a video introduction made by the artists themselves. Liquid Music audiences will be able to follow their creative process on the Liquid Music blog as Ramaswamy and Clayton share behind-the-scenes insight into their collaboration.
The “selfie-style” video introduction offers a personal look at the artists, early on in their collaborative process. The videos are accessible and give CONNECT students unique insight into the initial stages of creating new work.
After viewing the introduction videos, students and teachers will collect questions and submit them to the artists via their own “selfie” videos. This shared video exchange is a special part of this CONNECTion Virtual Visits. Part of the charm of the interaction is that students have the chance to be curious and experience music they might not normally hear by artists previously unknown to them.
Finally, completing the circle, the artists will record a video, answering selected questions that were posed by the elementary aged students. Each full school watches the final question and answer video – the students whose questions were picked to be answered by the artists get a chance in the spotlight! (See last year's final video by 2016.17 Artist in Virtual Residence Nathalie Joachim.)
The limits faced in the schools with complex scheduling and limited funds are real, but this program works to engage students and expose them to new music and art in an effective, yet efficient way. With just a laptop and bit of time, the CONNECTion Virtual Visit provides a unique and transformative experience for students and teachers, fostering discovery and interest in contemporary music and multidisciplinary approaches to art.
Keep up with Liquid Music Artists in Virtual Residence Ashwini Ramaswamy and Jace Clayton through journal entries and updates on the LM blog:
Artist in Virtual Residence: Ashwini Ramaswamy
Artist in Virtual Residence: Jace Clayton/DJ Rupture
Follow Ashwini Ramaswamy:
Instagram: @ashwiniramaswamy (instagram.com/ashwiniramaswamy/)
Follow Jace Clayton:
Instagram: @djrupture (instagram.com/djrupture)
Twitter: @djrupture (twitter.com/djrupture)
Follow Liquid Music for Updates and Announcements:
Twitter: @LiquidMusicSPCO (twitter.com/LiquidMusicSPCO)
Instagram: @LiquidMusicSeries (instagram.com/liquidmusicseries)