Professional and student musicians will meld their musical and vocal talents for a unique premiere May 20 at the Music Box Village.
"Ode to NOLA: A Musical Collage" will debut at 7 p.m. at the art installation of "musical houses" at 4557 N. Rampart St.
Written by local composure Tucker Fuller, the seven-movement work is an aural examination of five of the city's neighborhoods told in music, spoken word and a melange of sounds and sound effects.
Performing the piece will be the Polymnia Quartet, along with a student string quartet and readers and other participants from the Homer Plessy Community School.
The students have played a critical role in the development of the work. Fuller collaborated closely with them to grasp their views of their hometown.
Over the course of several weeks, Fuller met with students and "divided the kids into groups that represented neighborhoods of New Orleans."
After the young people "generated words that represented those parts of the city," the composer and the students crafted melodies and improvised tunes, including string chorals for two of the movements.
The Music Box is a canvas of structures and sound-generating elements that create new takes on traditional compositions and instrumentation.
"I get to have these sounds in this incredible space," Fuller said. "It brings another way of hearing the music differently."
The work includes a traditional score for the quartet, but the sound-making structures and various whistles will add an improvisational element to the work. The Polymnia Quartet, which commissioned the work, will be "mirrored" by a student quartet.
The Polymnia artists include Benjamin Hart, Kate Withrow, Amelia Clingman and Philip Von Maltzahn. Clingman, who had been working with Rebecca Crenshaw, an arts educator at the school, encouraged the collaboration with the students after witnessing their talent and creativity.
The students will be active participants in the piece, "playing" the musical structures, providing spoken segues between movements and also visual collages on display to accompany the music.
"I really wanted to make something that could have a life outside of the Music Box," said Fuller. "I wanted to write an actual quartet that kids and adults could enjoy."
Some of Fuller's other works include pieces for the Marigny Opera Ballet, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and collaborations with poet Megan Levad.
The quartet will also perform local composer Andrew Waggoner's "I Want To Go With The Wolves," which will include howling children and village accompaniment.
Also on the program will be Philip Glass' "String Quartet No. 5."
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the show. Online tickets are at squareup.com/store/airlift/
"Ode to NOLA: A Musical Collage"
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday, May 20
WHERE: Music Box Village, 4557 N. Rampart St., New Orleans
TICKETS: $15 advance, $20 day of