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The Deeper Soul of Picture Canyon – A Student Composition

By January 9, 2023 January 17th, 2023 No Comments

Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra timpanist Maria Flurry and her husband, composer Henry Flurry, collaborated with 3rd-grade teacher Diane Immethun to lead her class at Cromer Elementary school through an integrative composition project to be featured at the FSO’s January 20th concert!

Husband and wife musical collaborators Maria (Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra timpanist) and Henry Flurry (award-winning composer) have teamed up with a local 3rd-grade teacher at Cromer Elementary, Diane Immethun, and together walked her students through an unforgettable experience of composing their very own orchestral work! The Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra will perform the piece at their concert on January 20th.

This endeavor would not be possible without the involvement of the classroom’s teacher Diane Immethun. An experienced integrated studies educator, she devoted two weeks of her classroom time to teach her students about the basic principles of music theory, musical terms, what instruments make up an orchestra and how they sound, and the physics of sound. This preparatory work gave the students musical fluency and creative tools, setting them up to be fully involved in the creative process.

Diane also sparked the idea that the students could derive ideas from an archeological field trip to Picture Canyon, a natural and cultural preserve in Northeast Flagstaff. The field trip was enriched by archaeologist Neil Weintraub who engaged the students in the history and remains of Picture Canyon, which served as the inspiration for the class composition. He introduced the students to knowledge of the land and the Sinagua people of Picture Canyon, and their interest and further exploration of these topics deeply affected them. This connection to the stories and history of the Sinagua people inspired the composition’s name: “The Deeper Soul of Picture Canyon.”

Henry and Maria Flurry spent two days with the class combining their newly learned musical knowledge with their experience in Picture Canyon, forming the students’ very own composition. The Flurry’s and their teacher Diane reported that the student’s engagement, interest, and creativity in the project were nothing short of inspiring and profound. The kids were inquisitive and spurred conversation and ideas well beyond what was planned. These young composers worked with pride to create a work they can now claim as their own for the rest of their lives – a legacy that reflects their time in and connection to Flagstaff’s Picture Canyon.

“Not only did the students see themselves as composers, but they easily connected the academic learning and field trip to Picture Canyon with the sounds they were organizing into the music for the orchestra.” – Maria Flurry

“The creativity and enthusiasm for this project was profound. It was, in many ways, an emotional journey as the children were challenged to find the voice that echoed their own interpretations of this sacred and significant place. They wanted it to be meaningful. “ – Diane Immethun

Overall, the project was one of emotional and academic depth, spurring original and creative musical ideas and giving the students a sense of great accomplishment. The composers are beyond proud of their accomplishments and eager to premiere “The Deeper Soul of Picture Canyon”! The FSO will perform the piece at their January 20th concert: Classical Music Goes West.

To hear “The Deeper Soul of Picture Canyon” , purchase tickets by clicking the button below!

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