Cosmic Harmonies is a concerto for oboe and wind ensemble and the final product of a collaboration between oboist Jillian Camwell and composer Robert W. Smith. The three movements of the full piece were inspired by three works by artist Fred "Nall" Hollis, housed at the International Art Center on the campus of Troy University: "Adam and Eve in Yelapa", "Alternative Southern Belle", and "Cosmic Harmonies". 

"Adam and Eve in Yelapa" by Fred "Nall" Hollis

Nall was a student of Salvador Dali.  The Dali influence is clearly seen in a series of works Inspired by Nall’s time spent in the secluded beach town of Yelapa on the west coast of Mexico.  Nall considered the beach his “office” and many of the objects he found on that beach were incorporated into his artwork.

This first movement of Cosmic Harmonies is influenced both by the composer’s travels in Spain as well as his love of Salvador Dali’s artwork.  Spanish-influenced melodies combined with a liberal use of chromaticism reflect Dali’s “melting” clocks and other iconic images that impacted Nall and countless other artists.

Camwell with "Adam and Eve in Yelapa" at the International Arts Center in Troy, AL

"Alternative Southern Belle" by Fred "Nall" Hollis

Nall challenges the traditional image of the “Southern Belle” with a portrait depicting a slave woman.  The wasp nest behind her ear evokes the stinging words she endured over her lifetime. The child figure holding a liver spoon symbolizes the children of slave owners that she nurtured and raised. The pearl necklace around her neck represents her intangible wisdom over a lifetime of hardship.

The second movement of Cosmic Harmonies is based on the composer’s understanding of Nall’s powerful imagery.  Robert W. Smith was born in Alabama with maternal family lineage in that traditional southern lifestyle.  The movement begins with a sense of wonder as our southern day unfolds. Biting, stinging harmonic effects combined with a fractured antebellum waltz take the solo and listener through a surreal musical portrait of a strong, wise woman who, along with many others, shaped a culture, region and entire country.

Camwell with "Alternative Southern Belle" at the International Arts Center in Troy, AL