Pacific Symphony to Present RITE OF SPRING TURNS 100, 6/6-8
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by BWW News Desk
Aaron Copland once characterized "The Rite of Spring" as the foremost orchestral achievement of the 20th century, and The New York Times proclaimed the significance of the work to be "to the 20th century as Beethoven's Ninth is to the 19th." With the arrival of the centennial of Stravinsky's iconic masterwork, a reverberation of celebration can be heard around the symphonic world-and Pacific Symphony is no exception, offering a variety of activities throughout the rest of the 2012-13 season. In conceiving "The Rite of Spring," Stravinsky broke all the rules and defied convention, and it is very much in this spirit that the Symphony approaches its celebration.
This festival includes: the Sacre Project, a part art installation, part performance piece and a cross-disciplinary project created by artists from University of California, Irvine's (UC Irvine ) Claire Trevor School of the Arts; a call for artworks of all kinds (art, music, dance), called the ReRite Project (remix, reinterpret and/or reimagine!); a workshop at Orange County Museum of Art; concerts featuring the provocative work itself; a traveling video booth; and a culminating party on the arts plaza, featuring the Symphony's second "Inside and Out" Plazacast-a free live broadcast of the concert projected onto the wall of Segerstrom Hall. For more information, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.
"The premiere of Stravinsky's 'Rite of Spring' was one of the most important moments in all of music history," says Music Director Carl St.Clair. "It is a work that literally single- handedly changed the course of music. It will be a riveting way to finish the Symphony's season."
Considered one of the most important and influential classical music composers of the 20th century, Stravinsky (1882-1971) experimented with a number of styles over the course of his career, with innovation always an integral component of his work. He saw a great deal of change in music throughout his lifetime; as a child, he was young enough to have witnessed Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conduct and yet lived long enough to also witness the break-up of The Beatles!
It was nearly 100 years ago, on May 29, 1913, that Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes premiered the ballet Le sacre du printemps ("The Rite of Spring") at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris-an event that led to the most infamous riot in classical music history due to its shocking primal rhythms, dissonances, choreography, costumes and scenery. "The Rite of Spring" depicts an ancient pagan ritual sacrifice, which culminates with a young girl dancing herself to death. Stravinsky's score for "The Rite of Spring" is often considered the single most important piece of classical music written during the 20th century.
THE CONCERTS: MUSIC UNWOUND
The festival of events, as well as the Symphony's concerts, centers around performances of the composer's provocative "The Rite of Spring" (last performed by the orchestra in 2008), led by Music Director Carl St.Clair, on Thursday-Saturday, June 6-8, at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (preview talk beginning at 7 p.m.). With an underlying theme of Russian "ballet" music, the program explores the transition of the ballet from the traditional to the radical, while exploring Stravinsky's reverence for Tchaikovsky and the fascinating bridge that inexorably linked the two composers. The program includes excerpts from Stravinsky's ballet "The Fairy's Kiss" and from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake," featuring dancers from the Claire Trevor School of the Arts"; and "Lullaby in a Storm" from "Sixteen Songs for Children," plus, excerpts from Tony Palmer's film, "Stravinsky: Once at a Border." Concert tickets are $25-$112; for more information or to purchase tickets, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.
This concert-the third of three very different Music Unwound performances underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and produced by the Symphony during the 2012-13 season-offers the opportunity to explore Stravinsky's masterwork through unique lenses, while also probing the evolution of ballet music and dance through a variety of unusual projects and events. The goal of Music Unwound, now in its fourth year, is to enhance the concert experience by creating contextual backdrops and thematic programming in order to give the music deeper meaning.
In the lobby, patrons encounter a "video booth"-created in conjunction with UC Irvine associate professor of dance and media art John Crawford. The video booth allows participants to choose sections from "The Rite of Spring," capture their own movement in a green screen environment and combine it with re-purposed video content from Crawford's Sacre Project (more on this later in the release), resulting in a custom personalized dance video that can be shared in the social media space. The booth has been created to travel to unexpected places around Orange County.
UCI is also planning a free "Symposium with Tony Palmer"that includes an in-person appearance by the composer-filmmaker and a screening of his documentary, "Stravinsky: Once at a Border," on Friday, June 7, at 1 p.m., at the Contemporary Arts Center, Claire Trevor School of the Arts. This Stravinsky biographical film (created for the composer's centennial in 1982) includes documents, photographs, family interviews and historic film (including appearances by Stravinsky). The symposium concludes with an informal discussion with Palmer and the audience.
INSIDE AND OUT: PLAZACAST CELEBRATION
The concert on Saturday, June 8, is part of the prismatic celebration of the 100th anniversary of "The Rite of Spring" and features the Symphony's second free "Inside and Out" Plazacast, a live simulcast of "The Rite of Spring" that takes place on the plaza outside the concert hall beginning at 8 p.m. (The first Plazacast took place last June for the Symphony's season finale, a performance of "Beethoven Ninth" that attracted several thousand attendees.) The festivities for "The Rite of Spring" begin earlier in the day with performances by community ensembles that have been invited to perform on the plaza prior to the start of the simulcast (more details to come!). The public is invited to come early, bring chairs and blankets, and picnic on the plaza, while enjoying a preview and live interviews with key guest artists. A selection of food will be available for purchase. This unique event is free and open to the public with no ticket required.
UCI AND THE SACRE PROJECT
But before any of this takes place, the anniversary celebration kicks off with the ambitious Sacre Project, UC Irvine's Claire Trevor School of the Arts' cross-disciplinary work directed by John Crawford and presented in collaboration with the Symphony. Essentially part media installation and part dance, the Sacre Project re-envisions the "The Rite of Spring" as a radically deconstructed performance event. The digital media installation remixes sections of the "The Rite of Spring," presented with small groups of dancers in "pods" arranged around the room. The audience is encouraged to walk through the room to watch and listen to the piece on their own individual terms. The dancers gradually transform the space from this unstructured experience to a circular performance environment, where the event concludes with the sacrificial dance from the "The Rite of Spring" on the central platform.
"It's truly a collaborative project," says Crawford. "While our school's choreographers, designers, dancers and musicians are digging deeply into the heritage of this hugely influential work, our guiding vision is to create a new work that integrates digital media with the performing arts to embody a 'Rite of Spring' for the 21st century."
The original "Rite of Spring" was first performed in 1913 with choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky. The Sacre Project uses new dance material created by three choreographers, processed and interpreted through digital video and motion tracking to examine notions of memory and embodiment. The Sacre Project situates dance in a non-traditional setting, incorporating advanced visual and sonic environments that interact with choreography and dancers to evoke an uneasy marriage between media installation and theatrical performance. The project launches at UCI in the Experimental Media Performance Lab, Feb. 20-24, before moving to the Samueli Theater at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts (next to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall), June 6-8, in conjunction with the Symphony's concerts.
Admission is free but ticketed. For details on UCI's February events, contact the Arts Box Office (949) 824-2787 or visit arts.uci.edu/calendar. For more information on the Symphony's events, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.
RERITING THE RITE OF SPRING
But even that's just for starters. The creatively inclined public is being invited to be part of the ReRite Project and remix, reinterpret and/or reimagine this influential piece of music through modern-day sensibilities, becoming a part of history by submitting to ReRiteofSpring.org new artworks of all types (no boundaries!), for new music, art, dance pieces or anything anyone might conceive-utilizing "The Rite of Spring" as a source of inspiration. Resources are available on the website to assist participants in getting started, including orchestral samples available for downloading and remixing. All submissions, whether visual, musical or otherwise (even internet meme parodies!), are being aggregated on the ReRite of Spring website for viewing, to inspire new creations and collaborations, and to also serve in perpetuity as a public tribute to the centennial. There is no correct way to participate; imaginations are encouraged to fly. The project also includes presentations of selected works on view in various settings such as the concert hall lobby, at the Plazacast and other exhibition spaces in collaboration with arts partners (to be announced).
"With the ReRite Project, I see Pacific Symphony as the curator of a public tribute to this important anniversary in music history," says Kurt Mortensen, director of audience engagement. "Harnessing the power of social media and the internet, people all over the world can express and share their creativity in celebration with others. It is my hope that we will get some collaborations going too. Since the call for works is multidisciplinary, like a ballet, it would be amazing to have someone create a dance video for someone else's music remix, for example."
"We wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to could participate," continues Mortensen. "With internet memes being so ubiquitous and easily produced by computer users everywhere, it's a great way for virtually anyone to join in, have fun and mix a bit of pop culture humor into the mix. I'm really looking forward to seeing how clever people can get."
REINTERPRET: OCMA AND CENTER FOR LIVING PEACE
The Symphony's "Rite of Spring" celebration extends beyond the concert hall. Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) in Newport Beach is providing its own inspiration by inviting everyone participating in the Re-Rite of Spring project to take part in a workshop that explores the art of reinterpreting masterworks, plus take a private tour of its current exhibition, "Richard Jackson: Ain't Painting a Pain," on Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. This exhibition includes Jacksonian reinterpretations of canonical works by Jacques-Louis David, Edgar Degas, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, Pablo Picasso and Georges Seurat. Jackson, who was known for breaking rules and defying convention, is considered one of the most radical artists of the last 40 years, not unlike the artists who conceived "The Rite of Spring."
Artists participating in the ReRite project may be selected to display their artwork at the Center for Living Peace (one of OCMA's arts partners), as part of its third anniversary celebration, on May 18-19. The traveling "video booth" also takes up residence here during this same time period. The Center, located near UC Irvine campus," is founded on the belief that "good happens"-that one kind act can inspire a multitude of good deeds. The Center offers a variety of community programs, events and service opportunities that give back and make Good Happen in the community. For more information, visit www.goodhappens.org.
THE INSPIRATION: STRAVINSKY AND HIS WORK
Stravinsky wrote many important works in the repertoire of classical music, but he is best known for his first three ballet scores: "The Firebird" (1910), "Petrushka" (1911) and "The Rite of Spring" (1913). At 27, the largely unknown composer was commissioned to write "The Firebird" for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and it put Stravinsky on the musical map. This was a more traditional piece, which owed a lot of its style to his teacher Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. During the writing process, the Russian philosopher/artist Nicholas Roerich told Stravinsky about an idea for a ballet depicting a pagan ritual in which a young maiden dances herself to death.
Stravinsky began to sketch out ideas for this concept while writing "The Firebird." Although he intended to focus on this as his next project, Stravinsky got sidetracked the following year with what became his second ballet score for the Ballets Russes, "Petrushka," a work which demonstrated the composer's more personal and unique musical style. It was also his first time working with the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, who performed the role of the puppet Petrushka. Stravinsky was becoming a rising star in the classical music world, but it was his third piece for the Ballets Russes with Nijinsky as choreographer "The Rite of Spring" and the controversy surrounding it that ensured his legacy.