NATCHITOCHES – An intergenerational, cross-curricular collaboration provided original artwork for a senior recital at Northwestern State University, combining art, music and a lovable elephant named Effie.
When Brendan Raincrow of Burleson, Texas, a music major and graduating senior, was preparing to perform Alex Wilder’s “Suite No. 1,” subtitled “Effie Suite,” for his senior tuba recital, he wanted some art to illustrate Effie’s adventures. The suite revolves around Effie the elephant and each movement reflects an episode in the life of Effie. Junior art major Darryl Anderson of Zachary and NSU Elementary Lab student Aleda Belle Shirley collaborated with Raincrow to create work that was presented during the recital.
“The piece was commissioned by legendary tubist Harvey Phillips whose goal was to make the tuba more commercialized to the public,” Raincrow explained. “Many people see the tuba in the back of the orchestra playing the ‘ohm pah’ parts and never get to see the beautiful melodies that the instrument is capable of performing. That is when Harvey called his lifelong friend Alec Wilder to compose such a work that showcased what the tuba could do. The piece was written for a children’s CD, so everything in it is meant to be quite humorous.
“You may think a tuba being characterized as an elephant is cliche, but that is not the case here. Effie is a charming, dainty, frivolous and a rather clumsy character. This suite is in 6 movements and each highlights a moment in Effie’s day. It is important to note that Effie’s character is the tuba and the piano is the different supporting characters that show up throughout the day.”
Parts of the suite are I. Effie Chases a Monkey, II. Effie Falls in Love, III. Effie Takes a Dancing Lesson, IV. Effie Joins the Carnival, V. Effie Goes Folk Dancing and VI. Effie Sings a Lullaby.
Dr. Masahito Kuroda, associate professor of music, is Brendan’s major prof and NSU art grad student (and alum) Hollis Ervin is Aleda Belle’s father. Digital files of the artwork were created and shown on a screen above the performer during the recital.
“Brendan and I are so excited about this project, and we are so grateful that [Professor of Art] Leslie, Darryl, Hollis, and Aleda contributing this beautiful series of art work,” Kuroda said.