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Wyoming Symphony Orchestra

Wyoming Suffrage to be commemorated through music

in arts and culture
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned an original work from rising American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming and the 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, Wyoming led the nation in women’s suffrage by giving women the right to vote with the passage of the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869.

WSO Executive Director Rachel Bailey led the search for just the right composer to capture the essence of the historic event. It was at the suggestion of Music Director Christopher Dragon that the WSO reached out to Boyd. 

“Her music is very poetic and she also deals with women’s themes, which really fit into what we were doing,” said Bailey. “The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will debut this commissioned pieceon April 18. It will be a very exciting day for us and Wyoming as a whole as they celebrate thisreally historic anniversary.”

Visiting Wyoming for the first time Dec. 6-9, Boyd gathered inspiration for her forthcoming musical composition to celebrate the moment in the Cowboy State’s history. 

“Wyoming, of course, put through women’s suffrage about 50 years before everybody else, and so we’re taking the inspiration of that, and the stories of the women that were instrumental in that, and writing a piece about them, but also writing essentially a 25-minute minute love letter to Wyoming.” Boyd said.

A first draft of the composition should be ready by the end of this year. 

“I usually compose pretty fast, so usually I work about a month on a piece like this, but again that’s like a seven-hour a day sort of thing,” Boyd said. “I call myself a melodist because melody is the most important thing to me, but audiences will find that my work is very emotional and very exciting to listen to.”

Boyd expressed her gratitude at being a part of the commemoration of suffrage through performing arts.

“It’s an incredible honor,” she said. “I know that Christopher Dragon has admired my music for some time but being able to write for an orchestra, and an orchestra like this, is really a special and beautiful opportunity for me and I’m pleased that I get to help tell this story of Wyoming.”

The performance will be in Casper’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now, and those interested in attending are advised to buy tickets early, since a sellout is expected.

Tickets can be purchased at the WSO website.

Art important to the world, says NEA chair

in News/Community/arts and culture
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Making art a part of people’s daily lives is very important to the future, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts said during a visit to Cheyenne.

Mary Anne Carter visited Cheyenne on Friday for the Wyoming Arts Summit, hosted by the Wyoming Arts Council.

During her appearance, Carter said the arts unite people by bringing members of different cultures and political beliefs together.

“What we’re finding more and more is arts are a big part of healing and health and well being,” she said. “So for the future of the nation and the world, making sure arts are integrated into our everyday lives is really important.”

Art is also a good tool for economic development, said Brian Harrington, an artist and member of Laramie’s city council.

Harrington pointed as an example to Laramie’s Mural Project, a space where artists can join forces to create large-scale murals.

“When you see these things start to build community spaces, you see them strengthen communities and provide a space where we can all get together and sort of move on from there,” he said. “We can gather and collaborate and do things we weren’t necessarily anticipating doing before.”

Carter said the arts played a major role in the women’s suffrage movement in Wyoming. To commemorate that fact, the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned a female composer to write a piece in honor of the 150th anniversary of Wyoming giving women the right to vote.

“I think that just goes to show how critical women are to Wyoming, economic development, the arts, just in general and making sure they are well represented is very important,” said Ryan McConnaughey, president of the orchestra’s executive committee.

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