When thinking about Athens, poet laureate Wendy McVicker often looks to the vast clusters of trees that flow through and curve around the area.

Sometimes she takes to the woods to find inspiration among the treetops: so was the case for a recent project, where McVicker worked with several Ohio University students to craft a composition inspired by Athens.

The OU collegiate chapter of the Music Teachers National Association each year is tasked with the creation and promotion of a project for the Athens community.

This year, the chapter commissioned a poem and music composition inspired in the city of Athens. Poetry was provided by McVicker, while the music that accompanied her spoken word was composed by Athens County native Matt Dowler, who is studying music composition at the university.

The poem of McVicker’s that Dowler selected for the composition, “What Matters,” spoke to him.

“There’s this forgotten quality of Athens,” Dowler said. “It has this specific beauty and very unique nature, despite all the obstacles. You don’t know how much Athens has to offer until you can’t have those things.”

Because of this project, the MTNA has awarded OU’s chapter with the honor of the collegiate chapter of the year, according to Andrea Tinajero, who is chair of MTNA and helped coordinate the project.

To Tinajero, Athens is a new home. She previously lived in Mexico City, and although she loved the liveliness of the area, she finds tranquility in Athens.

“There’s this peace around it,” she said. “And the composition represents the calm and easiness of the town.”

Participating in the ensemble for this project was Lydia Sander, Mercy Olson, Gloria Lemus, Xuan He, EmmaTheberge, Abby Olson and Tinajero. The project was also completed with the help of Laura Silva, who conducted the ensemble.

The composition can be heard on YouTube at the following link: https://youtu.be/nMC7eg4Qxoo

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