However at 7 p.m. Thursday, residents have the chance to not only see but also hear that marriage through Bruce Levingston, the visiting artist in humanities, and world-renowned artist and critic, Dr. Robert Storr.
In the halls of Jobe Auditorium, guests will hear the melodic works of Frederic Chopin while learning of his friendship with Eugene Delacroix and the effects both artists had on each other.
Also compositions by Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, John Cage and Phillip Glass will be heard as Storr discusses the works of Edgar Degas, Jackson Pollock, Sol LeWitt and Chuck Close.
Levingston, who began his piano career at the ripe old age of 4, is a Cleveland native who played his way into an illustrious career in New York.
From premiering various works at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center to being the founder of and artistic director of Premiere Commission, Levingston is considered an acclaimed concert pianist and one of today’s leading figures in classical music.
Storr is the dean of the Yale School of Art. He was director of the Venice Biennale in 2007, the first American to ever hold that position, and from 1990 to 2002 was curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
A few years ago, Levingston premiered a piece of music that was a portrait of a painter named Chuck Close. Storr, who heard it, then wrote an essay explaining the influences between different artists and composers, especially the one between Close and the very famous painter and photographer Phillip Glass, who is considered the father of minimalism in music.
Thus began the modern day partnership of artist Storr and composer Levingston.
Levingston also began to notice throughout history that composers and painters were friends.
“Delacroix and Chopin were friends in the 19th century,” he explained. “In fact, Delacroix painted a portrait of Chopin that hangs in the Louvre.”
Levingston also noted that Pablo Picasso, classical composer Manuel de Falla and Eric Satie were all good friends and worked together in Paris some decades later.
“It inspired me to commission this piece and Rob agreed to come down to accompany me,” Levingston added. “He will show on screen many of the works by the artists that influenced some of the composers I will be playing. He will tell of the lives of each of the artists and how they related to the composers.”
Levingston said this evening will not only be musically riveting, but visually appealing as well.
“It is a multi-media presentation with art and music and voice,” he said. “It will appeal to those of any age.”
Though Storr has no ties to the south, he is like many who have heard the tales of the Mississippi Delta and couldn’t wait to see it for himself.
“He was particularly interested in coming to Cleveland because of the sculpture garden at DSU,” Levingston said of Storr. “He found it fascinating to find one in the middle of the Mississippi Delta, which is the genesis of his trip.
“He has always wanted to come to Mississippi and see some of the historical places,” he added. “He will first travel to Oxford, then come to Cleveland.”
Levingston said he plans to visit Faulkner’s home in Oxford, but also has plans to visit Delta treasures such as McCartys and the Mississippi River.
As for Levingston, New York may seem far from his Mississippi Delta birthplace, but he has been busy connecting the dots between the two worlds.
“I am finding it easier to connect the dots between here and New York,” he said. “There are people who are really interested in our history, not only our state, but the Delta.
“They want to see these places, hear our music and eat our food,” he added. “Rob told me that he was particularly interested in being served lots of southern food.”
Storr is also honored to be a part of the evening Levingston put together with care.
“These pieces are all some that I have loved my whole life and have studied for my whole life,” Levingston said. “This is a chance for me to show not only how beautiful these pieces are but what led them to be composed to begin with.
“Music isn’t just an art that stands alone,” he added. “It is connected to our society, just like our hymns, the blues and jazz. It is who we are.”
Levingston said this is a rare opportunity to hear one of the world’s foremost art historians speak live about what is going on in art today and how it relates to the art being produced in the Mississippi Delta right now.
“Storr will also meet with the student and art faculty at Delta State,” Levingston said. “I think it is a wonderful opportunity to encounter something we don’t often see in the Delta.
“This is one of the things I had hoped I could do when I came back home,” he said. “To introduce both the people who live here and to those who do not, how interesting art and music is and their correlation to each other.”
This event is free for the public and seating is on a first come first serve basis.