Our 2019 Dillon Moran Musicians in Residence program was a two-day musical event unlike any other at Severn School. Jill Collier Warne, Sam Mumford and Ross McDouall of Creative Connections took the stage on Thursday morning with a set of drums, sampling and recording equipment, a guitar, and a cello. But instead of beginning their residency with a complete performance as many have in the past, they put out a call to our community. “We have some very small musical ideas,” said Sam “but we want to access your voices and your thoughts about your community and the way you see yourselves in society.” Over the next two days, students from our Upper and Middle Schools worked with the trio to create the unique multi-media performance, "I Collecting us."
What is Creative Connections?
Creative Connections is an international organization that provides unique opportunities to creatively explore and express stories, ideas and emotions through music. Jill describes their mission, “It is a true collaboration between youth, educators, community members and professional musicians, synergistically giving life to the idea of music making and the traditionally held views of teacher, performer and student. Creative Connections embraces the belief that we all learn and encounter life in unique ways and uses music to channel those differences into a beautiful shared experience for both participants and audience members alike.”
An Organic Evolution of Music and Sound
After interactive performances with our Middle and Upper Schools on Thursday morning, the Creative Connections trio invited any interested student to brainstorm creative ideas from singing and instrumental performance to spoken word poetry and visual artwork. Their goal was to create an original piece of music that reflects the individual and collective identity of our students.Students formed groups all over Price Auditorium to work out their ideas with each other. Sam, Jill and Ross served more as facilitators than leaders. They helped the kids organize generally but then stood back to let our students' voices come through.Throughout the two days, different groups of students jumped into the mix at different times. One moment, you’d hear Treble Choir and Vocal Ensemble working out harmonies. The next, sounds of horns and strings would dominate the space as students from Jam Band, Chamber Music Ensemble and Instrumental Ensemble improvised on stage. There were no boundaries to these sessions, any student could join in whatever way inspired them to do so.Visual artists gathered near the musicians, using the energy of the space to create both personal and collaborative works of art. As the trio worked with each group, students from all grades would drop in and out, contributing their talents to the collective.There were students who recorded a "Voices of Severn" soundscape using sound bites from life at school with special effects. And during one of the working sessions, Sam called students to the stage to record their thoughts and questions — all to incorporate into the final piece. These reflections were personal, political and humorous all at once, a window into the experiences of our students as they consider their place in our school and in the world. Every student had an opportunity to weave their voice into this event — whether on stage, at the mic, with a sketchpad or behind the scenes.
Friday Night Performance
As extraordinary and student-centered as the process itself, the performance on Friday night was all about the kids. The performance titled “I Collecting Us” could best be described as a musical look into what it’s like to be a young person in the world today. The audience could feel the emotion in the room as our performers swelled with melancholy, joy and everything in between. It was an intimate show, expressing something quite personal and uniquely Severn, born of the thoughts, passions, humor and talent alive in our students.
About the Dillon Moran Musician in Residence Program
The Dillon Moran Musician in Residence program was created in the Fall of 2012 to commemorate the passion, exuberance and solid musicianship exemplified by Dillon Moran, Severn School Class of 2013. Dillon’s life was tragically cut short in the fall of 2011 as the result of an accident at his home in Davidsonville, Maryland. The purpose of the program is to invite outside musicians to spend a defined period of time at Severn working with students, faculty, and the entire community to inspire, create and perform great music. The visiting musician will share his/her talent with Severn students and hopefully provide a fresh approach and new ways of bringing music to life in the Severn community.