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Sheridan Composer To Perform Work Inspired By Local Rock Formation

Dennis Jacobs
Courtesy Mark Bergman

Musicians from Wyoming and Montana will gather on March 21 at Sheridan College for a performance centered around place.

The event will include the first performance of a new composition by Mark Elliot Bergman, the director of strings and orchestral studies at Sheridan College.

Bergman said the piece "Rock City" is inspired by the Fallen City rock formation in the Bighorn Mountains.

"There are these large limestone blocks that slid down the mountain, but the blocks themselves look almost like they were cut by a stone mason and resemble a fallen ancient city," Bergman said.

Bergman said he wanted the capture the movement of the rock through music.

"There's a musical gesture that repeats throughout the piece, and each gesture overlaps with the previous iteration of gesture so that the series of sort of cascading overlapping gestures, which is meant to be evocative of falling rock," he said.

The piece also has loud block chords from the piano to represent the heaviness of the rock. Bergman said the West often inspires his music.

"I think I come back to the iconography of the West when I think of musical ideas that I want to express. They've manifested themselves in several pieces that I've written, including this one," he said.

He said he hopes Fallen City's familiarity will capture the attention of the local community.

"By referencing a local landmark and something that people are visually familiar with will be a kind of step into this world of music," he said. "I hope the music that I create will be a part of a larger conversation with composers and musicians in other places who are also inspired by sometimes similar and sometimes different things."

Performers will include Bergman, Susan Stubson, a pianist from Casper, and the Cascade Quartet from Great Falls, Montana.

The program features another Bergman composition, which was inspired by Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

The event will be held at Sheridan College's Whitney Center for the Arts on Thursday, March 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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