At Seattle Symphony, composer Gardner’s “Stay Elevated,” written with homeless young people

Posted on: May 22, 2018

“For the past seven weeks, as part of the Seattle Symphony’s Prism Project, composer in residence Alexandra Gardner has been working with young people at New Horizons [homeless shelter] and the YMCA, cooking up a score to be performed by symphony musicians in the lobby of Seattle Art Museum,” writes Brendan Kiley in Saturday’s (5/19) Seattle Times. “The symphony’s community-engagement initiatives … hit full boil in 2015, when then-Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declared formal states of emergency about homelessness. The symphony responded by … formalizing the Simple Gifts program, which pairs composers with members of various homeless demographics … to make music. (The Prism Project is this year’s iteration.) … Gardner coaxed and cobbled together the score…. One morning, she’d asked how participants greeted people on the street, then gathered them around a keyboard…. ‘So-and-so has a particular way of saying “good morning,” ’ Gardner said, ‘so I asked them “how would you sing that?” When we went to the keyboard to play it, they were like: “Oh! Oh! It’s music!” ’… The final movement suggested by the participants, ‘Moods/Awakening,’ had the soft, fluttering sound of dawn’s first birdcalls. The effect was gorgeous—pretty and haunting.”

Posted May 22, 2018

In photo: As part of Seattle Symphony’s Prism Project, composer Alexandra Gardner (left) works with Kaknnyy’GaDoughn (also known as CeeCee) at Seattle’s New Horizons youth shelter. Photo by James Holt / Seattle Symphony