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Cheekwood Bringing Bright Ideas to the Classroom by DeeGee Lester | photography by Mark Pickthall


ccustomed to enormous holiday light displays, it takes a lot to impress this generation of kids with the notion of an art installation composed of light. But upon arrival at Cheekwood’s Bruce Munro installation, Light, a child’s whiney “Do we have to go?” is quickly squelched, replaced by oohs, aahs, wows, and the age-old art question “How did he do that?” Now the parental easy escape (“He did it with lights, son.”) can be trumped by school art educators’ in-depth descriptions and “you can do it, too” hands-on activities for the classroom.

Nashville Collegiate Philharmonic by Rebecca Pierce | photography by Marty Gay


uring the summer months, young conductor and Belmont student Elias Salazar and his colleagues did not have an ensemble to be a part of and, therefore, had a hard time keeping their chops up. So Elias decided to see if he could find enough volunteers to form a decent-sized orchestra. With the help of faculty from Austin Peay, Belmont, and MTSU, Elias has recruited nearly fifty musicians from the Middle Tennessee area who are either in college or recently graduated and formed the Nashville Collegiate Philharmonic (NCP). In addition to providing music-making opportunities and bringing more of the classical masterpieces to the Nashville community, NCP is also intent upon showcasing the music of young local composers such as Belmont graduate Patrick Dunnevant and Belmont senior Rusty Jernigan. At set times during rehearsals, NCP reads projects by local composers and offers them feedback, which is a rare and rich opportunity for young classical composers. NCP is in the process of formalizing itself by becoming a non-profit organization, and Elias hopes the orchestra will be able to host several concerts each year, not just in the summer.   “The most wonderful aspect of this group is the pure desire to make music together. These are all volunteer players whose only compensation is the joy of performing with other music lovers. This provokes an environment that fosters wonderful attitudes, mutual respect, professionalism, and musical excellence,” Elias maintains.

From 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 4, teachers at all grade levels are invited to participate in the Munro Educator Evening, an awe-inspiring, in-depth exploration of the British artist’s work and process. From the light and sound display of Water Towers featuring 10,000 recyclable plastic water bottles, to the 20,000 lighted glass spheres of Field of Light, teachers will gain in-depth knowledge of artistic creation. Curriculum connections will be made to support classroom teaching with lessons and ideas that spark imaginations and ignite student creativity. “This Educator Evening gives teachers an opportunity to dig deeper into the work, process, and inspiration of Bruce Munro,” says Karen Kwarciak, School and Outreach Coordinator at Cheekwood. “During the program, teachers will tour the exhibition and learn about small-scale, light-inspired projects that can be done in their classroom and school.” The question “How did he do that?” will be answered, while empowered and inspired students will have the opportunity to create their own artistic light designs. The evening will include a guided tour of the exhibition, refreshments, and curriculum materials that can be adapted to different grade levels. Pre-registration is required. The fee is $15 ($12 for Cheekwood members). For more information or to register please contact 353-6973 or

NCP will perform their first concert on Sunday, August 11, at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Nashville, 108 7th Avenue South. The show will feature the music of Falla, Grieg, Mozart, Beethoven, and the two Belmont composers mentioned above. The concert will also feature Belmont pianist Madeleine May performing Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor, as well as Belmont alumna and soprano soloist Kristen Corley. For more information, visit

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2013 August Nashville Arts Magazine  
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