Internationally Recognized LSU Music Professor to Compose New Concerto Inspired by M. C. Escher

June 18, 2020

mara gibsonBATON ROUGE – LSU School of Music’s Associate Professor of Composition Mara Gibson will pursue a unique music composition project for bassoon and orchestra inspired by the lithographs of M. C. Escher. She has been awarded a $32,300 grant from the Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars, or ATLAS, program of the Louisiana Board of Regents, to fund this project titled, “Escher Keys.”

“I am incredibly excited and grateful to LSU and the Louisiana Board of Regents to have the opportunity to pursue my project ‘Escher Keys,’” Gibson said. “Collaboration is an integral part of my creative process and I could not be more thrilled to work alongside my colleagues, particularly Professor Darrel Hale and the hard-working members of the LSU Symphony Orchestra, for the performance, recording and publication of this new work.”

“Escher Keys” will explore the interactive possibilities between the bassoon, an instrument lacking in repertoire, and the orchestra, investigating the ideas of negative and positive space. The endurance and athleticism of the bassoon soloist will be heavily explored; the soloist will be able to choose from multiple versions of the work, each from a different vantage point, to create evolving interpretations with each player and performance. Through the possibilities enabled by the grant, Gibson will fully document the composition, recording and performance process, giving student musicians and composers unique insight into the creative process.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Gibson graduated from Bennington College and completed her Ph.D. at SUNY Buffalo. She has previously received grants and honors from organizations such as the American Composer’s Forum, the Banff Center, Louisiana Division of the Arts and Yale University. Internationally renowned ensembles and soloists have performed her music throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Asia and Europe. She released two compilations, “Artifacts” in May 2015, and “Skyborn” in November 2017, through PARMA Recordings, and recently premiered a special arrangement of her latest work “Secret Sky” with the LSU Symphonic Winds under the direction of Kelvin Jones.

“We are proud of Professor Gibson for earning this esteemed recognition from the Board of Regents,” said Todd Queen, dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. “The breadth of her composition acumen, combined with the fascinating inspiration behind the ‘Escher Keys’ project, has us incredibly excited to witness the final product. Equally important is that this work will also be performed by our own talented faculty and students, who will have the exceptional learning opportunity to work hand-in-glove with an award-winning composer.”

ATLAS, a Louisiana Board of Regents Support Fund subprogram, provides grants to faculty members in arts, humanities and social sciences disciplines to complete major scholarly and artistic productions with the potential to have a broad impact on a regional, national and/or international level. The primary focus of ATLAS is the scholarly or artistic merit of the proposed work, and projects are assessed based on their necessity, importance, originality and likelihood to have an impact on a broad academic and artistic community.



Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations
c. 510-816-8161 


Cullen Sadler
LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts 


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