Seneca Review assistant editor Joshua Unikel ’07 designed the cover of the magazine’s most recent issue based on a piece of music by Assistant Professor of Music Mark Olivieri. The cover, On Composition, reworks Olivieri’s score to “Stakes Is Higher” (the third movement of his larger composition, “Spectacular Vernaculars”) creating a new text that is a visual as well as musical composition.
“The thin horizontal lines on the cover are cropped and collaged out of his musical score,” says Unikel, who, with Seneca Review editor and Professor of English David Weiss, approached Olivieri with the intent of combining the mediums.
“The best part was working with other creative artists — it was a great experience,” says Olivieri, whose “Spectacular Vernacular” — originally written for Nicholas Phillips, associate professor of piano at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire — has been premiered and performed all over the world.
For Unikel as well, the collaboration proved fruitful, provoking intriguing creative questions: “I wanted to create a piece of design that meditated on what composition means for designers and what it means for musical composers. What if I gave Mark my visual piece and had him translate it as music, playing and recording the cover of the magazine as a musical score? What if Mark and I attempted to confuse and collapse the boundaries between graphic design and music, between forms of composition, which are often treated as strictly visual or strictly auditory?”
The Seneca Review, founded in 1970 by Professor Emeritus of English James Crenner and Ira Sadoff, features poetry with a special interest in translations of contemporary poetry from around the world. Distributed internationally, the magazine publishes award-winning poets as well as emerging writers. The current issue (Fall 2015: Volume 45/2) includes five poems from HWS graduates — three from Jessica S. Sobey ’05 and two from Timothy H. Carter ’12.
Unikel, who has been assistant editor of the Seneca Review since 2007, earned his B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing. He later earned his M.F.A. in creative writing at the University of Iowa and another M.F.A. in visual art from The University of Buffalo. He is currently working on his first book and creating visual art exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. He has also given lectures and workshops across the U.S. about writing, art, and hybrid forms.
Olivieri joined the HWS faculty in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. from the University at Buffalo, a M.M. from Ithaca College Music Conservatory, and a B.M. from Heidelberg College. Prior to arriving at the Colleges, Olivieri served as Composer-in-Residence in the Department of Dance at The College at Brockport. He has played and composed for luminaries like the Jose Limon, Sean Curran, Doug Varone, and Smith Dance Companies.
A recording of Olivieri’s original composition as well as a recording of his musical interpretation of the new issue’s cover will appear on the Seneca Review website along with the original score.