Two years after the Building Bridges through Music Festival at Arizona State University, our very own Zachary Bush has continued to create new and exciting opportunities for ASU School of Music students to perform innovative mixed-level repertoire with students from The Harmony Project Phoenix.
A recent article published by The Ensemble: A Newsletter for the U.S. and Canadian El Sistema Movement lauds Bush’s efforts in creating meaningful intergenerational inclusion through tiered-parts music. Over the past two years, fourteen new mixed-level chamber pieces have been commissioned, composed, and performed in Arizona. Bush explains, “Each piece contains an advanced part and an easy part for each instrument group (e.g., a string octet would have eight parts—four advanced and four easy).”
This season, the Harmony Project Phoenix students were heavily involved in the decision-making process about new works. The Ensemble describes: “In a brainstorming session, we explored what the students found interesting in music and what kind of topics they would like to see addressed in a piece. Composers used the students’ ideas as the basis for new commissions. A few days after the concert, Harmony Project students met with the composers for a panel discussion. Each composer explained which ideas they liked and how they turned the ideas into a piece of music. Students asked questions about the composition process and the composers assisted students with their musical ideas.”
In this setting, performing mixed-level music is more than a fun collaborative project: “Harmony Project director Diogo Pereira notes that for parents, seeing their kids on campus has been a cultural wake-up call. ‘It was important for them to see their kids being featured on stage at a major university,’ Pereira says. ‘I think it has broken some barriers in their minds. They know now that it is possible and feasible for their children to get here.’”
Many of the resultant works from this project are available for purchase here.