Art and Myth Meld in Musikos Collective


Abe Frato

Cellists Perform in an Ensemble at First United Methodist Church as part of the Collective’s First Concert.

The Musikos Collective, a new student-run group, burst onto the College and Conservatory arts scene with a debut performance at First United Methodist Church this past Sunday. Founded by a trio of double-degree cellists — second-years Daniel Knapp and Aaron Lieberman and first-year Diana Reid — the collective aims to feature musicians and performing artists in concerts that highlight the interdisciplinary nature of art forms that are so often kept in separate spaces.

“We’re hoping to schedule concerts in the future that involve Conservatory students and Oberlin College departments. Whether it’s German, East Asian Studies, or the Dance department, there are so many departments that could open us up to a larger audience,” Knapp said.

The group name comes from the Greek root “muse,” which refers to the nine Greek muses — goddesses who represent various art and academic forms including poetry, history, and music.

“Musikos forms the etymological origin of music,” said Knapp, who serves as director for the collective. “It describes originally the nine muses in Greece, which were super interdisciplinary. There is a muse of guitar and poetry, dancing and theater, and they all have different [arts] they specialize in.”

According to Lieberman, the creation of this collective can provide students with a unique experience they could not receive in a traditional classroom setting. 

“The collaboration is what I love about it,” Lieberman said. “It is a way for students to work with others in ways they could never in a traditional college education. What we’re trying to do is to create concerts that are more than just pieces of music — we’re thinking of program ideas that tie into something else.”

One of the group’s main goals is to facilitate collaboration between Conservatory musicians and College departments in an effort to promote concert-going to a broader range of audiences. Part of the inspiration for this new collective stemmed from what Knapp identified as an oversaturation of musical concerts in the Conservatory.

“There are way too many presenting organizations here already on campus that put on concerts,” Knapp said. “It doesn’t exactly make sense to have another organization that  just puts on concerts. There is a very large gap between the College and Conservatory. Our goal is to be an interdisciplinary bridge between the [two].”

Each of the nine muses can be understood to embody forms of creative expression, from the metered lyricism found within poetry, to the dramatic narratives found in history, to the movements of a play — these forms can be transplanted into a musical context to create a layered effect for the audience.

“The [muses] each have an artful and more academic side,” Reid said. “What we want to try and do in Musikos is pair music of any kind, from any part of the world, with some other discipline.”

Terpischore, the muse of lyric poetry and dance (Diana Reid)

This eventual College-Conservatory collaboration can foreground the introduction of the concert narrative, an idea that Reid said she struggled to find in the classical format. A collaboration involving dance and music could serve as an appropriate example.

“As much as I love going to symphony concerts and hearing such a carefully curated art form, I always leave wishing there was a story attached, an adventure,” Reid said. “We want to explore this idea of narrative concert programming that draws the audience in, where there isn’t a separation between performers and listeners.” 

The collective not only strives to create interdisciplinary performances but also to highlight the work of student composers. Their debut performance last week featured the work of three student composers as well as a 14-person cello piece that encompassed all of Professor Dmitry Kouzov’s cello studio. Titled Polyhymnia, meaning many voices, the performance was an ode to the muse of sacred poetry of the same name.

For those interested in attending their next concert, the Musikos Collective will be collaborating with the Sacred Heart Concert series Thursday, May 15 for a feature performance of the Knapp twins, Amina and Dan.

The collective is also interested in receiving collaborative concert ideas from students in any field of study at Oberlin. If  interested, please message their instagram @musikosco.