Magic Of The Mountain

Magic Of The Mountain

Trillium expands while putting down roots


The chamber music concert series that began in a Fayetteville living room nearly four years ago has had a monumental year, and so has its founder, Katy Henriksen.

That living room was Henriksen’s own and the series, Trillium Salon Series, now has a home on Mount Sequoyah, a shiny new nonprofit distinction and an artist residency program starting this month.

“Having a gathering space for people to commune over and through art is the idea, and it’s clear that that resonates with a lot of people,” Henriksen says, pointing to the consistent growth of the series’ annual events, as well as the series in general.

As the concerts, collaborations and interest in the project have continued to expand, the mission has remained the same from that very first intimate concert, Henriksen reveals.

“It doesn’t matter [what music you grew up on], you can come experience these kinds of sounds and they’re not elite sounds; they’re not sounds that are only made for this academic or artsy set.”

Trillium’s first artist in residence will hopefully reflect that ideal, as well.

Thomas Echols is a guitarist, composer, teacher and multimedia artist whose work incorporates classical, modernist and pop music, as well as algorithmic software to explore sound manipulation and generation.

“He is really representative of what Trillium wants to do in that he’s all about crossing genres and being hybrid and working in different realms,” Henriksen says of what made Echols the perfect participant for Trillium’s first residency. “We both have a common vision of creating space for the arts.”

“Seeing these new-ish developments around my home town — with [the] Unexpected [Festival], especially — and becoming aware of Katy, and just seeing the positive things that are happening, I really want to be a part of that conversation. It’s really meaningful to me,” Echols adds. He was back in his hometown of Fort Smith in October to participate in the fourth annual contemporary art, The Unexpected.

Three weeks before his return to Arkansas, Echols is at home in Austin, Texas, where he enumerates the deluge of projects currently occupying his attention: In addition to his teaching, he is in the middle of curating a new listening room series in Austin; preparing for a program with an experimental DIY music organization; working on a sound art installation for a local restaurant; refining multiple devices he has created that analyze or manipulate sound during his guitar playing; and he is working on his next album.

“It’s a lot of stuff,” he admits with a sigh and a chuckle. “So this [residency] gives me an excuse to isolate into my work in a place that is so meaningful to me.”

Echols will be in Fayetteville for nearly a week, and he will use some of that time to create field recordings to use in a composition that he will write during his stay. He’ll present that piece, in collaboration with a handful of local musicians, at a performance on March 20. He will also lead a workshop on algorithmic composition to share his interest in merging the scientific with the artistic.

“It’s an educational thing, it’s a collaborative thing, it’s a way to connect with the community, and also give him the opportunity to really have time to create, as well,” Henriksen says of the program’s objective.

“Arkansas has this strong emotive effect. It’s really got an is-ness to it,” Echols muses. “For me, my 17-year-old younger self is all there, and that was in a time when you don’t have social media or tons of recordings of the things. So there’s a lot of other stuff going into it for me. It’s a very emotionally intense place for me.”

Those field recordings will be from places that hold special meaning for Echols. The sound of shutting the door of the house he grew up in, for example, may be one of his recordings. And with the software Echols is still fine-tuning before he arrives, he can stretch out that sound, identify its pitch or harmonic content, and generate material for musicians to perform, he says as one example of the software’s capabilities.

“It’s not the most intuitive connection,” he confesses of his journey learning to incorporate the tech with the music. Echols’ workshop will help those who are interested learn simple ways to interact with this kind of programming, he shares.

“I work at a place called dadageek here in Austin, which is kind of a community center and informal school where people learn to use technology in their art in interesting ways,” he explains. “And I’ve found that kind of experience to be something really neat to kind of develop a bit of a community that wasn’t there otherwise around people learning different ways of engaging with their art.”

Echols and Henriksen are both excited for the flexibility of this new program and Trillium’s new nonprofit standing will aid her hopes for continued expansion. The distinction will allow Henriksen to establish actual fundraising goals and apply for grants that can make more collaboration and residencies possible, on top of the regular Trillium concert programming, she reveals. And it’s a vision that has been a long time in the making.

“Honestly, since even before Trillium was a thought in my head,” Henriksen says of when she first pictured starting an artist residency program. “When I moved back to Fayetteville from New York, I was like, ‘OK, Fayetteville’s the perfect environment for someone to come and have a retreat and the space to really hone in on their creative ideas.’ That was May, 2008, and now we’re getting to have that first one.”

The significance of finding a home on Mount Sequoyah is not lost on Henriksen, either. The Mount Sequoyah Center at the top of the mountain was founded in 1922 by the Methodist Episcopal Church as a retreat center and training facility. The glowing cross that watches over downtown Fayetteville and the wooded tranquility of the mountain have offered places to gather or to reflect for locals and visitors alike for generations.

When the property was transferred to the newly formed, secular nonprofit Mount Sequoyah Center Inc. in 2016, Creative Spaces NWA also found its base of operations there. The “living art space” is a part of Mount Sequoyah Center that provides studio, exhibition and performance spaces to artists, and is also establishing its own residency program this summer. It was through Creative Spaces NWA that Henriksen landed her office space that now serves as her creative hub, as well as accommodations for Trillium’s events of varying size.

“They’re opening Mount Sequoyah up to the artistic community,” Henriksen says gratefully. “You see all the different types of people who are creative in the community [connecting here], and then when we have a Trillium, we’re inviting the general population to come up and experience it. It’s something really magical going on with the fact that we’re activating these spaces this way.

“There’s just a lot of energy surrounding this space as a place that could really help propel the arts forward.”



Trillium Salon Series

With Thomas Echols

WHEN — 7 p.m. March 20

WHERE — Mount Sequoyah Center at 150 N. Skyline Drive in Fayetteville

COST — $10 suggested donation


FYI — Echols will also lead a workshop on algorithmic composition. Follow @TrilliumSalonSeries on Instagram, @TrilliumSounds on Twitter, or Katy Henriksen’s public Facebook page to stay up to date.



Upcoming Trillium Schedule

April 4 — Amos Cochran record release with Christian Serrano-Torres (cello) and Miranda Baker Burns (viola), 7 p.m., Sequoyah Hall, Mount Sequoyah. $10 suggested donation.

April 11 — Poets Mohja Kahf and Banah Ghadbian with members of the University of Arkansas World Music Ensemble, 8 p.m., Fenix Gallery in Fayetteville. $10 suggested donation.

TBD — Pop-up Trillium Salon with members of Artosphere Festival Orchestra in May. Free.

June 20 — Second annual Summer Solstice Block Party, East Seventh Street from Washington to Willow (Spring Shop Studios to the Amplified Tiny House). Free.

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