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Wisconsin’s rural life inspires a classical composition

When Martha Glowacki asked rural sociologist Michael Bell to offer commentary about “Wisconsin’s People on the Land,” the art exhibition she co-curated for the Wisconsin Academy’s James Watrous Gallery, she thought he might say something about the state’s rural roots or its long history with agriculture.

Photo of Michael Bell

Michael Bell, professor of rural sociology, poses in the Watrous Gallery, at the Overture Center. Photo: Aaron Mayes

She didn’t expect that Bell would say nothing.

But that’s exactly what happened. After seeing the exhibition, which is on display in the Watrous Gallery until May 20, Bell suggested that he respond to its depictions of rural life with music instead of words. He then wrote a three-part classical composition titled “The Wick of the Land,” which will be performed by the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society on May 13, as part of a concert that kicks off the Academy’s two-day conference, “The Future of Farming and Rural Life in Wisconsin.”

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