Pairing Sight with Sound: More on Symphonic Photochoreography

As I discussed in my previous post, symphony orchestras are beginning to explore innovative audio-visual performance opportunities, such as James Westwater’s symphonic photochoreography.

Symphonic Photochoreography

Symphonic Photochoreography — what exactly is that?

As founder James Westwater explains: “Symphonic photochoreography is an innovative art form that engages audiences worldwide with evocative, multi-image photographic essays choreographed and performed live to selected works of classical music.” Learn more>>

Who’s Doing It?

Here are some examples of visionary orchestral ensembles, effectively shaping the 21st century symphony orchestra performance and audience engagement landscape.

1. The Concert Artists of Baltimore:
The Concert Artists of Baltimore (CAB) is exploring new ways of providing musical performance and enhancing audience experiences through the use of visual media in orchestral performance.

In collaboration with the CAB orchestra, Maestro Polochick, and Westwater Arts, The Concert Artists of Baltimore presented a symphonic photochoreography Maestro Series concert – “a multi-media extravaganza pairing concert favorites with stunning images of nature.”

Performance Pieces:
Copland: Three Old American Songs
Copland: Appalachian Spring
Barber: Adagio
Respighi: Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite III
Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

2. Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has also collaborated with Westwater Arts to provide an audio-visual symphony concert, contributing to Westwater’s “Kids, Cameras and Classics™” series.

It’s a great way to engage young people with classical music and your orchestra. KC&C is interactive, hands-on, innovative, educational, empowering, skill-developing, collaborative, spirit-lifting, kid-friendly and readily fundable.

Baltimore Symphony performs a Westwater KCC piece. http://westwaterarts.com/involve.html

3. Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra

Our ‘Heroes’ concert was an excellent example of what we mean when we say that we are not merely an orchestra in Boulder, but rather ‘Boulder’s orchestra.’ [The concert] demonstrated not only our commitment to offering ways to enhance and deepen the impact of a musical experience, but also our determination to reflect our community’s spirit of discovery and civic-mindedness. — Michael Butterman, Music Director & Conductor


Other examples of audio-visual concerts

4. North Carolina Symphony – The Planets: An HD Odyssey
In early February, the Women of North Carolina Master Chorale and the North Carolina Symphony performed “The Planets: An HD Odyssey,” compliments of Opus3 Artists.  The performance offered a stunning combination of “Holst’s symphonic powerhouse, The Planets, live with HD images from NASA projected on the big screen.”

Performance Pieces:
Richard Strauss: Fanfare from Also sprach Zarathustra
Johann Strauss, Jr.: On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz, Op. 314
John Williams: The Battle from Star Wars
arr. Custer: Star Trek Through the Years
Holst: The Planets, Op. 32

“The images in the movie…were often ­astonishing. Photographs from rovers and satellites, radar images and ­computer-generated ­graphics were combined to give the audience the impression of circling individual planets and sometimes ­flying over their awesomely barren landscapes.” —The New York Times

5. The Philadelphia Orchestra
You can learn more about the orchestral innovations of Philly Orchestra’s performance of The Rite of Spring in another recent blog post>>

Take-Aways

Finding common ground with so many members of your community is exciting in itself and I think these concerts provide a forum that makes this possible.  It’s not just music, it’s a concert experience...a shared concert experience that becomes a story that audiences want to share with their family and friends. Concerts that stimulate both the visual and audio senses, at least in my opinion, seem stickier.

With innovative partnerships, dynamic multimedia, and exciting, multi-sensory audience experiences such as these, I encourage symphony orchestras to continue thinking outside of the traditional performance, to push their creative boundaries, and connect with their audiences in a variety of ways that are relevant and interesting to them.  You have to know your audience, which takes time and stems from the development of strong relationships.  With audio-visual performances to facilitate social interaction and find common ground among enthusiastic and innovative arts organizations, I think symphony orchestras and other cultural arts groups have a lot to look forward to in the evolution of technology.

Have you participated in a multi-media concert experience? What are your thoughts?

The Houston Symphony performed at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, led by Hans Graf and featuring images of our solar system. NY Times – Music Review.

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