“Music for Thought” is coming to Marion’s ArtWalk | community

Stephanie Porter Nichols | Smyth County News & Messenger

Chase Altizer began singing at such a tender age that even his earliest memories did not preserve his first performances.

These singing opportunities, Altizer said, took place in the church. As he grew up, he discovered drums, which led to guitar. In high school, he played in the marching band while also being on the football team — an endeavor he now describes as a combination of dedication and “a little bit of madness.”

After graduating from George Wythe, the Wytheville native went to George Mason University. During these years Altizer started playing with different bands.

Today, the composer and multi-instrumentalist is working to redefine Appalachian music.

Altizer’s path to this moment, however, was not a straight one.

After his bachelor’s degree, he went to Virginia Tech, where he continued his education in science and technology.

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He did his Masters and entered the job market.

Altizer realized he wanted more. He returned to graduate school, this time studying at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His studies have focused on jazz and postmodern music, which Altizer says examines the art of music, including the thought processes that lie “below the music.”

In his songs, Altizer said, the listener may hear irony or jokes, but they still discover a poignant message.

There’s often an interplay, or back-and-forth, between two contrasting points, he said, adding, “It’s definitely food for thought.”

Altizer loves to create in the moment.

“Improvisation is at the heart of everything I do,” he said.

Often, according to the musician, you can find a new sound or an idea “that lies dormant within you” if you “take a blank slate and create something that feels spontaneous in the moment”.

Altizer takes musical improvisation to a new level.

As an entertainer who enjoys performing with other musicians, Altizer created The Chalkboard project.

It’s never the same band twice. He’s the only constant in The Chalkboard.

Altizer explained that he and other musicians will take turns writing a concept or musical style or other idea on a whiteboard. Then, using improvisational techniques, they interpret what they have just written.

You never know what you’re going to discover, the bandleader said.

Altizer celebrating his 27thth birthday this month, admits his long-term goal is to work full-time in music. At the moment he enjoys performing and teaching individual students. And he’s still using those science degrees and doing environmental consulting for a living.

This coming Friday, August 12th, Altizer will perform solo at Marion’s Appalachian Spirit Gallery Second Friday ArtWalk. This will be his first exhibition at the gallery.

The 6pm concert is sponsored by The Bank of Marion and admission is free. Should the weather be too hot or too rainy, the concert will be moved indoors to the gallery’s air-conditioned salon.

Learn more about Altizer at www.chasealtizer.com, on Instagram @chasealtizer, and on Facebook.

The non-profit gallery will be hosting a reception at 144 W. Main Street in Marion from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m

In August, the gallery will feature felted landscapes and rolled rope baskets, as well as a sale of necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The gallery will also offer paintings, photographs and prints at sale prices.

New work on display this month by members of the Appalachian Spirit Gallery includes paintings done in oils, watercolors, acrylics, alcohol inks and mixed media; Photography, jewellery, marquetry, pottery, woodturning, quilts and fabric art, weaving, feltwork and stained glass.

The gallery is operated by the Appalachian Spirit Artists Association, a 501(c)3 organization composed of artisans who share jobs to fulfill the group’s mission to promote the arts, traditions, lore, and spirit of the Appalachians to celebrate by demonstrating the work of local talent.

The gallery is located in one of Marion’s historic buildings on the corner of Sheffey Street and Main Street, opposite the Royal Presbyterian Church and adjacent to City Hall.

The monthly ArtWalks on the second Friday take place through December. All events are free and open to the public.

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