This drawing may look like a maze or an artist’s sketch, but it’s actually a musical score created by Emmy-award-winning composer Steve Heitzeg.
A few years ago pianist Teresa McCollough received a surprise gift in the mail from Heitzeg: 192 scores titled World Piece. Each score was named for one of the 192 countries in the United Nations at that time and made a political or environmental statement through one chord, or a few notes beautifully expressed through Steve’s evocative drawings.
“World Piece arrived during a very difficult time in my life,” Teresa told me via phone this week. “I couldn’t believe that he had kept the project a secret for so many months. I cried when I opened the package.”
From the very beginning, Heitzeg conceived of the project as a thank you to McCollough. Heitzeg describes the evolution of the idea:
In 2000 Teresa McCollough had a call for scores for her new CD of music for solo piano by living American composers listed in the American Composers Forum newsletter. I submitted my Sandhill Crane (Migration Variations) and fortunately, I was one of the composers selected for her CD New American Piano Music that was released on the Innova label in 2001. Since the release of that CD she has performed my Sandhill Crane numerous times internationally–from China to Canada. She would always send me programs from the performances, too. So, I wanted to send her a thank you for her kindness.
I had been ruminating about composing a piece about world peace. Then, one day while walking through the Barnes and Noble in Minneapolis, I came upon Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World. I thought I could honor each country in the world with a brief chord or gesture. The UN works tirelessly for peace and most of the countries in the world are member states, that is why I chose the UN.
I use a single chord or small musical fragments to symbolize the notion that the smallest acts of kindness can change the world in a positive way.