As the musicians work on the stage, the students work in their sketchbooks, and on a large pastel mural creating a "response" to the music. Much like the exploratory challenge the 20th century master Kandinsky was inspired to pursue after his encourage with the works of the composer Schoenberg. You can Read More about this here:
I do not typically work as an abstract expressionist, but I did want to be a model for my students. And like my students I hard difficulty starting. It meant creating a new set of questions for myself based solely upon the elements of art:
What is the shape of that sound?
What is the color of the tone of that instrument?
Is there a definitive form or not?
Shape and reshape? All answered through the movement of my brush and selection of my eye. The key for my was to quiet the internal rhetoric and simple flow with the music.
Once the framework of the piece was created it was a matter for me of interweaving and layering the elements and choosing where to create emphasis as the music asked.
Overall, it was a very freeing exercise that I intend to revisit. And it completely disabused me of the notion that somehow abstraction was "easier" than realism. A different skill set perhaps, but still thoughtful, well-executed abstraction is just as demanding of one's artistic intellect as thoughtful, well-executed realism.