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Alumnus Composer Develops Original Piece into Multimedia Installation

CONWAY, Ark. (July 10, 2014) – Hendrix College alumnus Ryan Gaston will present a multimedia art installation based on his original music composition "A Dream Retrieval Ritual" next month at Hearne Fine Art in Little Rock.

Gaston, a 2012 Hendrix graduate who majored in music composition, will attend California Institute for the Arts this fall.

“The piece is about coping with the potential risks of following the creative impulse and learning to determine whether that impulse is leading one to a healthy resolution or to an unhealthy obsession,” said Gaston. “It's a meditation on the balance between creativity and mental health.”

The piece premiered at Hendrix in 2012 and was performed at the 2012 Conway Composers Guild Concert.  

Gaston approached friends in the local arts scene about assembling a larger-scale version of the piece. The piece is now a 25 minute fixed media recording in 5.1 channels, a 40-minute film (with a fantastic, gorgeously written script), an interactive computer program and a found-object sculpture.  

“We've had great luck with finding musicians who were interested in contributing to the project,” he said.

Among the contributors are members of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra; Foliage, a jazz fusion band; Seamless, a progressive rock band; Hot Cognition (another progressive rock band); and singer/songwriter Emma Branch.

“They all have approached the project with a real sense of adventure and enthusiasm,” Gaston said.

The final audio product is “somewhere between Erik Satie, Charles Ives, Gyorgy Ligeti, Edgard Varese, John Cage's tape experiments, Aphex Twin, Autechre, and something else I can't quite place.  

Gaston and friends have assembled a Kickstarter page that contains a more direct explanation of how the finished product works.   

“We've pulled several of our own personal networks together from all across the country to get this assembled, and we hope that the final product will have an impact that spreads well beyond its Arkansan roots.  We want to be able to take this to other performance venues, galleries, and universities so that we can share this idea with as many people as is possible. We think it's genuinely unique and has the capacity to really move people and to make them think.   

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Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit