Nearly 260 children from three schools in Central Texas and a local art center participated in the Austin Civic Orchestra’s second annual Paint to Music contest — a program that encourages kids to explore classical music through art. Led by a teacher, the young artists drew inspiration for their work by listening to 1712 Overture, a musical parody by P.D.Q. Bach.
Teachers from the participating schools and groups — Cedar Creek Elementary in Bastrop Independent School District, Hyde Park Schools and Holy Family Catholic School, as well as students from the Austin Creative Art Center — selected the top artwork to submit for the contest, a total of 105 pieces. The orchestra will perform 1712 Overture at a concert on May 13 and will present the artwork from 3-4 p.m. before the concert in the lobby of the AISD Performing Arts Center.
We talked with Kathy Murdock, education director for the orchestra, about the contest and its purpose.
ACO: What is the connection between art and classical music?
KM: Throughout history, there have often been parallels drawn between the elements of art and music. Similar elements can be found in both art and music: line, balance, texture, subject, color or other components. Often, art and music inspire one another or are inspired by the same cultural influences.
While participating in Paint to Music, students are able to use the process of creating art to explore the elements of the piece they are listening to and studying. In Paint to Music, students do not have to be able to draw a parallel between art and the music, but are given the opportunity to explore and create based on what inspires them from the composition.
ACO: How does exposure to classical music benefit children?
KM: Studies have shown relationships between listening to highly organized or complex music and enhancement of brain activity. Children can develop a love and appreciation for a piece of music by studying it in depth, building a foundation for future study and appreciation.
ACO: Why does the orchestra facilitate this program each year?
KM: The Paint to Music program — modeled after a program facilitated by the San Antonio Symphony — makes classical music more accessible to youth. The process of studying the selected music helps students make connections with art, music and history. Austin and its surrounding communities are filled with many creative young people who deserve this unique opportunity!
ACO: Why was 1712 Overture a good fit for Paint to Music?
KM: 1712 Overture is a great Americana piece to include in the ACO’s season, Made in America. Listeners hear quotes from many American favorites such as Yankee Doodle, Pop Goes the Weasel and other familiar classical quotes, all interwoven with a classical (yet often tongue-in-cheek) treatment and presentation of the musical elements. These offer opportunities for exploration and creative expression through art.