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Sarah Gibson's "to make this mountain taller" is about women helping women

Melony Dodson talks with Maestro Aram Demirjian and composer, Sarah Gibson, about the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra's upcoming Masterworks concert. The KSO will perform the TN premiere of Gibson's composition to make this mountain taller.

On its upcoming Masterworks program, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra presents two well-known works: Beethoven's Violin Concerto, featuring violinist, Geneva Lewis, and Claude Debussy's La Mer...as well as the Tennessee premiere of a work by American composer, Sarah Gibson, titled to make this mountain taller. Performances are Thursday, February 22nd and Friday, February 23rd, both at 7:30pm in the magnificent Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville.

Gibson's piece was initially inspired by Aristide Maillol's sculpture La Montagne, which she saw at the Norton Simon Museum on the day Roe v. Wade was overturned. (see a photo of that sculpture here: https://www.nortonsimon.org/art/detail/M.1968.17.S )
La Montagne (The Mountain) is an immense statue of a sitting woman with hair blowing in the wind. She is strong, feminine, and bold, with a concerned expression on her face. Gibson pondered the characteristics of the statue and its name, "The Mountain," which is normally attributed to more masculine traits. She also pondered the number of mountains that women have had to climb to access the most basic rights. However, she was comforted by remembering all of the trailblazers who have shown us what can be achieved. Gibson later found a poem by Rupi Kaur which summarized her feelings about the experience:

I stand
on the sacrifices
of one million women before me thinking
what can I do
to make this mountain taller
so the women after me
can see farther

The idea behind to make this mountain taller is one of women lifting each other up, supporting each other, to keep blazing the trail for generations to come.

to make this mountain taller pairs nicely with Debussy's La Mer. Maestro Demirjian explains that the pairing was initially inspired by similar themes of nature, but that the orchestral colors are very similar and work quite well together. Rounding out the program will be Beethoven's classic Violin Concerto, featuring violinist, Geneva Lewis. Born in New Zealand, Lewis is a brilliant violinist, just in the beginning of her career, after winning numerous prestigious young artist competitions.

Tickets and additional information about this concert can be found at: https://knoxvillesymphony.com/concert/beethoven-violin-concerto/

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.