Pacific Symphony logo

Press Release


Jean Oelrich
Director of Communications
(714) 876-2380

Pacific Symphony Harpist Michelle Temple’s Music-Inspired Art Competition—“Art2art: Celebrating Inspiration”—Comes to Fruition, Thanks to Musician Innovation Grant

Orange County, Calif. — September 26, 2016

Art 2 Art

College Students Invited to Submit Artwork Inspired by Music: Sept. 26-Oct. 30

Inspired by the possibility of receiving a Musician Innovation Grant, which funds creative projects by Pacific Symphony musicians, harpist Michelle Temple proposed an idea that in turn would inspire others. Temple’s source of inspiration is not surprising—music—yet her project took root from the famous Southwestern artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s idea that “music could be translated into something for the eye.” The result is the music-inspired art competition, “Art2Art: Celebrating Inspiration,” which invites local college students to listen to the musical piece, “Aria” for alto flute and harp by James Hopkins (performed by Temple and Symphony flutist Cynthia Ellis)—allowing it to fire imaginations and unleash creative vision through painting or drawing. Up to six finalists will be chosen for the culminating multimedia event, taking place at the Laguna Art Museum in November, with one winner taking home a $500 prize.

“When the Innovation Grant opportunity was announced, I was so grateful for the possibility of funding a performance of Jim Hopkins’ ‘Images Sonnates’ for flute, harp and string quartet,” says Temple, who has been inspired by Hopkins’ music since her earliest days at Pacific Symphony when his choral work “From the Realm of the Sea” was performed by the orchestra with Pacific Chorale. “I was so taken with how he uses the different colors and timbres available in the orchestra. The idea for my project sprang from the title of the piece, and the intersection between visual art (images) and music (sound).

 “In choosing the inspiration music, I recalled my recent performance of a piece for alto flute and harp called ‘Aria,’ which moved a musician friend of mine to tears,” she continues. “Music that is evocative and inspirational, and would be new to the artists, was exactly what the competition needed. My goal of bringing my friend Jim’s music to a wider audience made the choice easy. From there, I began to search for visual art that had been inspired by music, and quickly encountered Georgia O’Keeffe’s series of abstract paintings based on music—and the real idea for my Art2Art project was born. I wanted to explore the emotional and creative connectivity that binds artists across various art forms.”

Designed for students from Southern California colleges, “Art2Art” seeks new 2D artworks using any painting or drawing media to be submitted from Sept. 26 through Oct. 30. Finalists will be judged on their work’s quality and interpretation of the musical inspiration, with a collective vote taken from the online community. Open Oct. 31 through Nov. 10, online voting along with jurors Dr. Malcolm Warner, Marinta Skupin and composer Hopkins, will determine up to six finalists to participate in the multimedia event taking place at Laguna Art Museum on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. The finalists’ works will be on display during a live musical performance, when the audience will select the winner of the $500 prize. For more information and rules on submitting artwork, visit www.PacificSymphony/Art2ArtCompetition.

“It has become very popular to invite audiences to vote on competition shows, a la ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” comments Temple.’ “My innovation is to ask a concert audience to decide the winner of an art competition interpreting a musical inspiration piece, as the piece is performed live in a museum setting.”

Art forms beyond music and visual art will also be explored during the event, including poetry and dance. Featuring Symphony musicians—Ellis, flute; Temple, harp; Agnes Gottschewski, violin I; Christine Frank, violin II; Pamela Jacobson, viola; and Robert Vos, cello—the program includes Jules Mouquet’s “La Flute de Pan, Op. 15”; “On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven,” poetry by Edna St. Vincent Millay; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, movements three and four, with choreography by Naugle; and Hopkins’ “Aria & Villancico,” “Cloud Shadows” and “Images Sonnates.” Audience members are invited to stay for a post-concert Q&A discussing artistic inspiration with Hopkins, Naugle, the museum’s Executive Director Malcolm Warner and the art competition winner. The event is free with museum admission. For more information visit

“We are constantly experiencing music inspired by dance forms, and music inspired by poetry (songs and opera), but what about poetry that was inspired by music?” says Temple. “That led me to Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem ‘On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven.’ I was struck with the idea of trying to recreate the joy and power of Millay’s music-inspired words in the movement of a new dance, which would use both Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the poem as inspiration. I feel so fortunate that my idea captured the imagination of Lisa Naugle, chair of the dance program at UC Irvine, who has offered to choreograph this new work and enable her students to bring it to life.

Temple is hopeful that her project reaches art-inclined young adults, visual arts and dance students from local colleges who might not otherwise attend a Pacific Symphony concert, in order to make a fundamental connection across disciplines with people who are moved by art in its many forms. The Musician Innovation Grant is also the ideal opportunity for her to play Hopkins’ chamber music.

“I am continually looking for opportunities to work with Jim and bring his magical work to life, so that as many people as possible can hear and appreciate it,” she says, adding that her project is also a great way to strengthen the artistic partnerships the Symphony has with Laguna Art Museum and UCI’s Department of Dance.

The Musician Innovation Grants were first established last year to give the Symphony’s musicians the opportunity for original expression, creativity and experimentation, with the goal of serving new communities and developing new or deeper interest in classical music. With funding provided by The James Irvine Foundation, the projects focus on adults and highlight interactivity. Inspired by the creative minds and unique backgrounds of its musicians, the Symphony and its Board of Directors awarded four orchestra members in 2015-16 with a Musician Innovation Grant to fund new artistic projects. These four chamber music performances explored such diverse themes as obsession, synesthesia, suppressed musical treasures of the 20th century, as well as classical and Broadway music. In addition to Temple, grants in 2016-17 have been awarded to First Violinist Dana Freeman and Principal Percussionist Robert Slack.