Professional sound, unique space

Plains Arts Museum hosts an inspired performance

On Oct. 4 Tiana Griff performed an hour long flute composition at the Plains Art Museum.

Musicians find many muses; ex-lovers, a drunken night, anything to conjure creative juices. For Tiana Griff, the spark was the acoustics on the third floor of the Plains Art Museum. That is where she performed an hour long flute composition entitled “Awash in Sound” on Oct 4. 

The Sound

Griff is a professional flautist who teaches at Minnesota State University Moorhead and just happens to be the executive director of the Fargo Moorhead Youth Symphony. Her performance reflected this vast experience with beautifully perfect musicianship.

The composition was from guitarist Geoff Gersh, a musician and composer out of New York City. Geoff is known for being inventive with his techniques, like using a bow instead of a pick or orchestrating groups of guitar players without giving them a time signature. 

“I’ve been friends with Geoff for a really long time,” Griff said, “and we have talked for probably 20 years about him writing something for flute.” According to Griff, up until now, Geoff hasn’t done very much but guitar.

“The room and Geoff’s music that he had been doing for years, are the two things that really, in my head, really work well together,” Griff said, “like that really open, kind of trance-y, ambient thing.”

Griff said it all came together when she heard about the gallery, “It was like the perfect storm.” 

After talking to some friends she said she was motivated to get a grant and the commission from Geoff to produce the show. 

The Room

Griff told the audience they could walk about the interactive art gallery while the music played, but many opted to sit, close their eyes and just listen to her performance. 

“Maybe I’m too enchanting,” Griff joked. “Also the room isn’t very big and there were kind of more people here then I thought.”

The gallery was not just awash in sound it was full of smells, textures and tastes. An exhibit titled “The Other Four” is being showcased, featuring vials of smelly liquids and other interactive displays.

Andy Maus, director of Plains Art Museum told me about how one-of-a-kind this idea is in gallery world. “This exhibition is probably, to our knowledge, the only exhibition of its kind that has been in an art museum before.” 

What makes the gallery unique is not just the interactive nature of the displays, but the primarily non-visual aspect of the installations that entertain the other senses according to Maus.

The setting was “the perfect thing” for the piece to Griff. “People can walk around and be casual and not have to worry about sitting there and I can just play for fun.”

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