TIMARA has a long history of award-winning students. For example, TIMARA students have won the coveted Allen Strange Undergraduate award six times since it was first instantiated in 2008. The most recent student to join this illustrious group is Senior TIMARA and Percussion double major Rachel Gibson. Rachel won the award for her piece, “Skyscapes // The Night Shines for You,” which she premiered in October 2019 at Oberlin’s Crafting Sound Symposium, organized as part of the TIMARA Department’s 50th anniversary celebrations. She performs the piece on her own custom-made musical instrument called IRIS, or Infra-Red Instrument of Stars. While SEAMUS had to be cancelled this year, Rachel will have the opportunity to perform her work and receive her award in person next year.
Rachel built IRIS while she was completing an NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates over the summer of 2019 at Louisiana State University. Rachel shared that “IRIS would not have been possible if it weren’t for the resources and the folks at Louisiana State University (Prof. Edgar Berdahl and Prof. Stephen Beck). They have their own “TIMARA” program called Experimental Music and Digital Media, which takes part in LSU’s interdisciplinary research fellowship program through the National Science Foundation. They helped me build IRIS there, from start to finish. Then, being invited to perform in [Oberlin’s] Crafting Sound Symposium pushed me to create the entire piece in a month! I’m grateful that even though SEAMUS was cancelled this year, they still acknowledged that I won the award and reserved a performance slot for this work next year.”