James Romig and his wife, Ashlee Mack, work 49 miles apart, but they are professionally tight through a unique solo piano piece.
Mack, director of piano studies at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, will perform Romig's hour-long work, “Still,” Thursday in a free 6:30 p.m. program at the Figge Art Museum, Davenport.
The 47-year-old composer — a music professor at Western Illinois University, Macomb — will introduce the piece, talking of its art-fueled inspiration, structure and recent performance history, including Sept. 28 at Davenport's St. Ambrose University.
While the work was given several previews at universities, a performance last October at the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, Colorado, was the museum debut of the work, “an event that meant a great deal to both Ashlee and me,” Romig said in an email.
“Still” was named for and inspired by the Abstract Expressionist artist, Clyfford Still (1904-1980). He strongly believed that viewing his paintings in large numbers, without work by other artists nearby, “was the only way to understand his artistic intentions,” Romig, a big fan of his art, said.
At last month's St. Ambrose performance by Mack, the audience was invited to walk freely between a traditional concert hall — where the piano and performer were located — and a long hallway space filled with art by St. Ambrose faculty members. The hallway gallery had no view of the piano, and the music was brought in via speakers.
At the Figge on Thursday night, the performance will be held in the Avenue Gallery, which is currently filled with modern works on loan from the University of Iowa Museum of Art, Romig said. The audience will remain stationary throughout the performance but will be able to view art hanging on the walls of the performance space.
Thursday's Figge visit will be extra special since it's the composer and pianist's 13th wedding anniversary. To learn more about “Still,” including a performance video, visit jamesromig.com/still.html.