“The Calling” by Lisa Diane Wedgeworth

The Calling, new video work produced at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, August 6-19, 2018

~ Guest post and photo by Lisa Diane Wedgeworth

I have been reflecting on home, the land of my family. A calling, a tugging at my spirit to return there, if even for a brief visit to set foot upon the land my  ancestors toiled, built, walked and raised families upon.

Traveling through Alabama with my mother, visiting civil rights monuments and memorials, a deep kinship with those who endured and survived the Domestic Slave Trade stirred within me and the American South felt as much as my home as any of the places my immediate family and ancestors were called to put down their roots (Los Angeles, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, England and Jamaica).

While at the Hermitage, the water of the Gulf of Mexico  – although stained with the stench and destruction of the Red Tide – conjured images within my mind’s eye and whispered new work, The Calling, in my ear.

 

Composer Sid Richardson wins the 2018 Hermitage Prize

The Hermitage Artist Retreat and The Aspen Music Festival and School (AMFS) announce that Sid Richardson (pictured above right), a composition student at AMFS, has been awarded the 2018 Hermitage Prize. Richardson receives a six-week residency at the Hermitage, along with a $1,000 stipend for travel and food expenses. Richardson was selected by a jury that included Alan Fletcher, AMFS president and CEO; Robert Spano, music director of AMFS and the Atlanta Symphony; and the composition faculty of AMFS.

Bruce Rodgers (pictured above left), the executive director of the Hermitage, says that the partnership with AMFS has been tremendously rewarding over the past six years. First awarded in 2013, the Hermitage Prize is given to a promising composer who is enrolled as a composition student at AMFS. Rodgers explains that the residency is the only one the Hermitage grants to an artist who is just embarking on his career. “The Hermitage supports mid-career artists of every discipline who are immersed in their careers,” he says. “This is the one time we welcome an artist at the very beginning of his career. But the bottom line is that both organizations share the same goal—to nurture world-class artists. These students are already on their way to impressive careers with a multitude of recognized work under their belts.”

Richardson earned his Ph.D. in composition in the Department of Music at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He also holds degrees from Boston Conservatory and Tufts University. He received the Roger Sessions Memorial Composition Award upon graduating from the Boston Conservatory, and the Outstanding Achievement Award from Tufts University’s Department of Music. Richardson has collaborated on compositions with such artists as Conrad Tao, yMusic, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Deviant Septet, and Amarcord.

Richardson says that winning the Hermitage Prize is “an affirmation of my musical explorations. I can’t think of a greater opportunity for a young artist than to be given time, space, and a community of like-minded individuals within which to work.” He adds that he hopes to continue to, “explore the intersections of music and literature in regard to musical form—and to engage with new genres and media. My stay at the Hermitage will prove an important stage in my development as a composer.”

“We never know what will take place during a residency,” Rodgers says. “If the Hermitage Prize winner shares a residency with an established composer it’s usually someone they have heard of and admire. The organic process that occurs when artists interact with each other on our campus is a remarkable thing to observe. We look forward to welcoming Sid and doing everything we can to ensure that he has a successful and productive residency.”

Historic beachside property tours offered in September

The Hermitage Artist Retreat is offering historic beachside property tours, Friday, September 7, at 10 a.m.; Friday, September 14, at 10 a.m.; and Friday, September 21, at 6 p.m.  These free, one-hour walking tours explore the property’s colorful history and offer up-close views of the 106-year-old main building and four other historic structures that now serve as live-work spaces for visiting artists. Reservations are required and only available through email at reservations@hermitageartistretreat.org.

According to Bruce Rodgers, the Hermitage’s executive director, the Hermitage is a thriving oasis of living history and natural splendor. “Artists from around the world draw inspiration from this special location,” he says. “These unique structures have survived more than 100 years despite Mother Nature’s harshest tests. We’ll share engaging stories of the colorful characters and artists who’ve stayed here.” He adds that the tour begins with a video overview of the retreat.

The Calusa Indians were the original inhabitants of the site; their heritage lives on in the many middens and archeological sites in the area. In 1907, Swedish immigrant Carl Johansen bought a parcel to build a homestead for his family. The Johansens moved out in 1916; their house sat vacant into the 1930s, when it became a nudist resort called The Sea Island Sanctuary. After that, the property exchanged hands several times until, in the early 1990s, writer Ruth Swayze and her daughter, Carroll, an artist, spearheaded a community effort to save the buildings from beach erosion. At the time, Patricia Caswell was the executive director of the Sarasota County Arts Council, the organization that ultimately leased the property from the county in 2000 to turn the buildings into the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Caswell is now the Hermitage’s co-founder and program director. She says that tours of the Hermitage have been popular in the past.  “If these tours sell out, we plan to add more. It’s our delight to share this heritage with as many people as possible.”