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The Nature of Sound

Conductor Travis Jurgens

In "The Calm Before," orchestral conducting student Travis Jürgens evokes the moment just before the music starts. Portrait by Wayne Armstrong

Imagine: You’re at a symphony, and the show is about to start. The audience quiets, the conductor lifts his hands, and then — sound explodes from silence.

Photographer Wayne Armstrong was trying to capture that moment on the verge of creation in his portrait of Travis Jürgens, a second-year orchestral conducting student at the Lamont School of Music. The image, The Calm Before, is one of a series of portraits interpreting the relationships among music students, their instruments and their artistry.

Armstrong combined studio and stock photography with lighting and other effects to compose dramatic, otherworldly scenes. He connected each to nature in some way — relating natural elements to the musician’s personality or instrument or both.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between art and photography — it’s still a picture but with the complexity of a work of art,” Armstrong says. “I took a cinematic approach; each one is a mini-movie with a theme.”

>>Watch performances by Valane Adam Lusk, Niki Robins, Alaina Oltrogge and Gergana Argirova


Vocalist Faith Goins

What does a voice look like? "Stir of Echoes" hints at reverberation and volume, and junior music theater major Faith Goins' ability to fill up a space with her big voice and personality. Portrait by Wayne Armstrong

Jackson Stevens

"Twilight Call," a portrait of junior percussion major Jackson Stevens, evokes a battlefield call to action. Portrait by Wayne Armstrong.

Alaina Oltrogge 2011

Alaina Oltrogge, a sophomore horn major, told the photographer a story about French horns being used to summon ships. He knew then that he wanted to create her image, "Siren," around a water motif, and that all portraits in the series would relate to nature. Portrait by Wayne Armstrong

Valane Adam Lusk

The Zen-like setting in a bamboo grove captures the calm demeanor of Valane Adam Lusk, a woodwinds major who graduated in June 2011. "Improving Silence" also reflects the bassoon’s shape and “mesmerizing” sound. Portrait by Wayne Armstrong

Gergana Argirova 2011

Piano pedagogy master’s student Gergana Argirova specializes in the work of the Romantic composers, so photographer Wayne Armstrong envisioned a romantic setting. Although he photographed Argirova on a Lamont stage, she materialized in a moonlit forest as "Rhapsody in Red." Portrait by Wayne Armstrong.

Niki Robins

The portrait of sophomore flutist Niki Robins evokes wind, photographer Wayne Armstrong says. In "Moonlight Aire," Robins is barely tethered to the ground; the birds symbolize notes flying from her instrument. Portrait by Wayne Armstrong

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