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February 18, 2004
"Turning Two Hundred" premieres tonight
By George Mauzy

Ohio University has waited 200 years to have this kind of party, so now it's time to celebrate! Tonight, the University will host "Turning Two Hundred - A Celebration of the Bicentennial of Ohio University," a collaborative multi-media event that begins at 8 p.m. at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

The performance is a collaboration of Ohio University Professor of Music Mark Phillips and Associate Professor of Dance Lisa Ford Moulton, who teamed up to produce an original piece that involves performances from Ohio University students and faculty. Phillips will serve as conductor for the musical pieces, while Moulton choreographs the dance numbers.

8 pm - Turning 200 - Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium

"This presentation is a wonderful commemoration of our bicentennial because it has immediate appeal for all listeners," says Ohio University President Robert Glidden. "It is a production as much as a concert or dance piece, and I expect it to have a performance life long after the Ohio University bicentennial year."

The event will also include the presentation of two Founders Citations to people who have been outstanding contributors to the University. The award is the highest bestowed by the University's Board of Trustees.

Mark Phillips on "Turning Two Hundred"

President Robert Glidden commissioned me to compose a celebratory work commemorating the bicentennial of Ohio University that would feature both live performers and electronic and computer music technology, adding that he also hoped I would write something that would be "sufficiently abstract to have a life after the bicentennial." To reconcile the competing impulses of the specifically commemorative and the abstract, I came up with a plan of composing a series of movements for dance - some abstract, some specific, and some a blend of both - then weaving these movements together with short video montages to give focus and specificity to the more abstract movements.

This work is not a staged documentary, nor is it a historical drama told through music, dance, and video. Instead, it is an idiosyncratic and personal reflection on the history of Ohio University. It was important for me as a composer that abstract musical ideas be allowed to develop in a purely musical fashion, unfettered by nonmusical considerations such as plot or story line. It was equally important to me that the work not become merely at pastiche of historical vignettes accompanied by musical styles of that era. Many ideas for individual dance movements too rooted in historical contexts with their own implied soundtracks were eventually ruled out in favor of movements less closely tied to a specific time or tied to an era close enough to the present that I could use my own musical vocabulary effectively.

Lisa Ford Moulton on "Turning Two Hundred"

Embarking on a choreographic work of this size and scope was simultaneously exciting and challenging. However, as I began working in the studio, the place, events, and people that have been Ohio University over the past two hundred years became more real, more understandable, and more pertinent to the present. Delving into this rich history imbued me with a sense of appreciation, inspiration, and hope.

Choreographically, each of the six sections that comprise the work is an entity in and of itself, save the Epilogue, which involves a recapitulation of dance material from the previous five sections. Thus, my creative process throughout this project has been quite diverse. Because it was composed first, Mark Phillips' musical score directed many of my choreographic choices with regard to structure and content. Some sections of the dance contrast or abstractly reflect the music, while others are "music visualizations" with an obvious connection between what is seen and heard. Inspiration for the movement also was drawn from archival materials depicting the actual events or historical periods upon which each section was based. I interwove literal and symbolic gestures with a more abstract movement vocabulary to create a richly layered tapestry of design and meaning.

George Mauzy is a media specialist for University Communications and Marketing


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