Ellen Fullman & The Long String Instrument in Battle Hall

On October 20th, as part of the Music in Architecture / Architecture in Music Symposium hosted by the Center for American Architecture and Design, the College of Fine Arts and the Sarah and Ernest Butler School of Music, composer Ellen Fullman performed her new work “Tracings” in the magnificent reading room of the Architecture & Planning Library of The University of Texas at Austin. The performance featured Fullman both solo and with the Austin New Music Coop musicians Brent Fariss (contrabass), Nick Hennies (percussion), Andrew Stoltz (overtone guitar designed by Arnold Dreyblatt) and Travis Weller (playing his custom string instrument “The Owl”).

Ellen Fullman & the Long String Instrument
© All rights reserved by UT Libraries

Designed by architect Cass Gilbert and completed in 1911, Battle Hall provided an extraordinary acoustic environment for Fullman’s unique Long String Instrument. “Tracings” was composed specifically for the historic building, repurposing ratios found in the design of the building to produce justly tuned musical intervals and was influenced by the activities of library users during the rehearsals in the days leading to the performance.

In order to provide the space necessary to fit the Long String Instrument across the center of the reading room and the audience facing the instrument, all furniture had to be rearranged, not a small feat since the tables in this library are heavy and historical pieces originally designed for various buildings across campus. This was a two-part process so as allow for continued operations in the library during installation and rehearsals and the efforts from our staff were worth it.

Ellen Fullman & the Long String Instrument
© All rights reserved by UT Libraries

Originally scheduled as a single performance, the artists graciously agreed to an encore presentation immediately after the first one in order to accommodate those that arrived once the room capacity was reached. All in all, about 300 people were had the pleasure of this exceptional experience.

submitted by Martha González Palacios

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