Review of 92nd Street Y “Seeing Music”: The Art of Fugue with Brentano String Quartet and architect Gabriel Calatrava

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Review by: Mary P. Mulligan, Psychologist

I was thoroughly intrigued with the musical- visual exploration by the Brentano String Quartet- the Art of Fugue- at the 92nd Kaufman Concert Hall. I experienced it as a spirited discussion between four violinists, all with equal voice, revealing their thought processes and discussing others’ viewpoints, in an effort to convince that their perspective was superior.

Large strings on stage behind the musicians melodically ebbed and flowed along with the musical conversation. This musical – Visual presentation delights. MPM

 

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“SEEING MUSIC” – INAUGURAL MUSIC & VISUAL ARTS FESTIVAL

January 26 – February 18, 2016

HANNA ARIE-GAIFMAN, DIRECTOR

Beginning this January, 92nd Street Y presents “Seeing Music,” an innovative music and visual arts festival that provides audiences with a new way to experience and interpret the music they hear on stage, while allowing the various art forms to complement and inform each other. At the intersection of sound and sight, “Seeing Music” presents visionary interpretations of beloved masterworks by virtuosi from the worlds of music and art.
The festival features two 92Y visual art commissions: a moving installation created by architect Gabriel Calatrava that illuminates and interprets the Brentano String Quartet’s live performance of J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue, as well as a video and stage installation by visual artist Clifford Ross that creates a dialogue with Julian Rachlin’s performance of selected violin sonatas by Beethoven. Also included in the festival is Buster Keaton‘s silent film “The General” with improvised piano accompaniment by Matan Porat, and an afternoon of music with pianist Garrick Ohlsson of compositions inspired by works of art; preceding Ohlsson’s concert is a discussion by art historian Tim Barringer about the paintings that inspired the composers’ works. “Seeing Music” concludes with the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s “The Reef” – a critically-acclaimed performance piece melding original film, surfing and a unique mix of musical repertoire, which will receive its New York premiere in a revised version. “Combining music and other artistic mediums is still a rare experience for many classical music audiences,” Ms. Arie-Gaifman observes. “’Seeing Music’ uses a multidisciplinary approach that invites the audience to experience music in new, multi-faceted ways. The collaborations between musical and visual artists create total aesthetic experiences that mutually enrich both art forms, and also offer the audience new insights into familiar musical works.”In addition to the world premieres of 92Y-commissioned art installations that are featured in this series, many of the “Seeing Music” concerts represent exclusive New York appearances.

FESTIVAL WEBSITE:  http://www.92y.org/SeeingMusic

Pianist Matan Porat accompanies Buster Keaton’s The General –
January 26, 2016Israeli composer and pianist Matan Porat revives the now rarely-heard art of improvised silent film accompaniment with Buster Keaton’s 1926 landmark comedy The General – a film described by Roger Ebert as “an epic of silent comedy” and included on Sight & Sound’s “10 Greatest Films of all Time.” The New Yorker called Porat’s rendition of The General at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont “an astounding feat of creative musicianship.” Mr. Porat is one of few artists who still invest time in classical music improvisation while maintaining a career performing the standard repertory. His debut CD, Variations on a theme by Scarlatti—a 65-minute program of pieces from Couperin to Boulez that relate to Scarlatti’s Sonata K. 32—was recorded last year for the Mirare label and was hailed as “a fantastic album that one should hear over and over again” by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. (Mr. Porat will perform Variations on a theme by Scarlatti at 92Y on January 25, 2016 for his 92Y debut .)
Concept rendering by Gabriel Calatrava
The Art of Fugue with Brentano String Quartet and architect Gabriel Calatrava –January 30, 2016

This musical-visual exploration, commissioned and produced by 92Y and performed by the Brentano String Quartet, explores Bach’s masterpiece of counterpoint through music, a dynamic stage installation and spoken word. For this unique experience, architect and designer Gabriel Calatrava (of Santiago Calatrava Architects & Engineers) creates a stage installation that responds directly to  Bach’s music. Inspired by Bach’s fugal lines, the strings on musical instruments, and the children’s game Cat’s Cradle, Calatrava’s installation playfully illuminates and interprets Bach’s music, both spatially and visually. At the heart of the installation are sets of strings operated by a corps of dancers, choreographed by John-Mario Sevilla (Director of 92Y’s Harkness Dance Center).  New shapes, patterns and spaces are formed as each set of strings crosses paths, stretch, compress and pull one another in new directions.  Each new configuration illustrates the changing relationships between the voices of the fugue, which similarly rise, fall, and chase after one another to form ingenious patterns and to create intimate exchanges. Calatrava reflects on the project: “My fascination with moving architecture inspired me to design a set piece that serves as both a work of art and a functional installation that reacts to music.”

The work is complemented by a 92Y-commissioned interlude for spoken voices by playwright and television writer Itamar Moses (Bach in Leipzig; The Fortress of Solitude; Boardwalk Empire), performed by members of the Brentano Quartet.

Click here for a video of Gabriel Calatrava presenting concepts for his set design for this concert, illuminating Bach’s The Art of Fugue.

Composers Inspired by Art with pianist Garrick Ohlsson 
January 31, 2016Garrick Ohlsson, a masterful interpreter of the Romantic repertoire, will perform Granados’ Goyescas and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as the art that inspired these works are projected on-stage before the concert and during intermission. (Francisco Goya for Granados and Viktor Hartmann for Mussorgsky.)

Professor Tim Barringer — Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University — will give  a pre-concert talk on Goya and Hartmann’s art, their relationship to music, and how the composers interpreted paintings into such vivid sonic portraits.

Music and Video Art: violinist Julian Rachlin and artist Clifford Ross – February 6, 2016

Clifford Ross‘ monumental photography, video art, and visual installations are exhibited across America and worldwide. His Hurricane Wave series, begun in 1996 and currently on view at MASS MoCA, led to a long engagement with the power of moving water where he invites us to share his personal encounters with nature.  A new production of Digital Waves (commissioned by 92Y) is the result of a collaboration with violinist Julian Rachlin to create a vibrant new interpretation of Beethoven’s iconic sonatas for violin and piano.

Rachlin himself is no stranger to multidisciplinary collaborations, as he has been leading the internationally renowned Julian Rachlin & Friends festival in Dubrovnik, Croatia for 12 years, a platform for creative and vibrant projects with leading musicians and actors. Rachlin, reflecting on the project, states: “It is always a thrill to be able to put creative minds together in order to cross genres and attempt something experimental. 92nd Street Y attendees are in for a real treat – to experience Beethoven Sonatas and Clifford Ross’ installation complimenting one another. I view Clifford as one of today’s most inspired artists, and am honored to join him for this project.”

Australian Chamber Orchestra: “The Reef” – February 18, 2016

Constructing a musical score that stretches between J. S. Bach and the rock band Alice in Chains, the Australian Chamber Orchestra sets a genre-defying soundtrack against a spectacular original film created by artistic director and violinist Richard Tognetti and a crew of surfers, musicians and filmmakers who traveled to  the UNESCO-listed Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. The resulting film captures the ocean, the world’s best surfers, the arid desert landscape and the starry sky. Of this musical and cinematic feat, the Sydney Morning Herald described “The Reef” as, “a modern masterpiece” and “a wonderful and unprecedented marriage of surfing to a Tchaikovsky waltz” after its world premiere in 2012. Using standard orchestral instruments as well as the traditional Australian didgeridoo, the Australian Chamber Orchestra brings “The Reef” to the U.S. for the first time and gives its New York premiere at 92Y.

Click here for video excerpts of “The Reef”, including the film’s trailer and behind-the-scenes footage of its making.

92Y COMMISSIONS

Gabriel Calatrava, art installation & set design The Art of Fugue by Bach

Itamar Moses, interlude for spoken voices to complement The Art of Fugue by Bach

Clifford Ross, video & stage installation for selected Violin Sonatas by Beethoven

All concerts for “Seeing Music” are in 92Y’s Kaufmann Concert Hall –
1395 Lexington Avenue @ 92nd Street
Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at 7:30pm
Matan Porat, pianoBuster Keaton The General [FILM]
With live improvised accompaniment

Saturday, January 30, 2016 at 8pm 
Brentano String Quartet
Gabriel Calatrava, art installation & set design (92Y commission; world premiere)

BACH: The Art of Fugue, BWV 1080 / with an interlude for spoken voices by Itamar Moses

Sunday, January 31, 2016 at 3pm 
Garrick Ohlsson, piano

GRANADOS: Goyescas, Op. 11
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition

Pre-concert talk at 1:30pm

Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 8pm 
Julian Rachlin, violin
Magda Amara, piano

Clifford Ross, video & stage installation (92Y commission; world premiere)

BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata in D major, Op. 12, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 30, No. 1
BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 47 “Kreutzer”
BEETHOVEN Violin Sonata in G major, Op. 96

Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 7:30pm
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Richard Tognetti, artistic director & lead violin

Film by Mick Sowry & Jon Frank
“The Reef” (New York premiere)

RICHARD TOGNETTI: Derek and the Far Field Theory
TOGNETTI: (real. I. Grandage) Heart of the Black Beast (real. I. Grandage)
TOGNETTI: Bathymetry (arr. I. Grandage)
TOGNETTI / GRANDAGEBeyond
SEEGER: Where Have All the Flowers Gone (arr. Grandage / Tognetti)
RAMEAU: Suite Des Vents from Les Boréades
LIGETI: Ramifications
GEORGE CRUMB: Night of the Electric Insects from Black Angels
J.S. BACH: Fuga from Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 (arr. Tognetti)
IAIN GRANDAGE: Immutable
WOJCIECH KILAR: Orawa
ALICE IN CHAINS: “Them Bones” (arr. Tognetti)
CRUMB: God-Music from Black Angels
BRETT DEAN: Peripeteia from Electric Preludes
SHOSTAKOVICH: Allegro molto from Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Barshai)
RACHMANINOFF: Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14
SEEGER: “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” (arr. Grandage / Tognetti)
ALICE IN CHAINS: “Angry Chair” (arr. R. Tognetti)
BEETHOVEN: Cavatina from String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat major, Op. 130

Tickets are available at www.92Y.org/Concerts or 212-415-5500.

For press inquiries, please contact Kirshbaum Associates:
212-222-4843 | [email protected]

ABOUT 92Y
92nd Street Y is a world-class, nonprofit cultural and community center that fosters the mental, physical and spiritual health of people throughout their lives, offering: wide-ranging conversations with the world’s best minds; an outstanding range of programming in the performing, visual and literary arts; fitness and sports programs; and activities for children and families. 92Y is reimagining what it means to be a community center in the digital age with initiatives like the award-winning #GivingTuesday, launched by 92Y in 2012 and now recognized across the US and in a growing number of regions worldwide as a day to celebrate and promote giving. These kinds of initiatives are transforming the way people share ideas and translate them into action both locally and around the world. More than 300,000 people visit 92Y annually; millions more participate in 92Y’s digital and online initiatives. A proudly Jewish organization since its founding in 1874, 92Y embraces its heritage and welcomes people of all backgrounds and perspectives.

ABOUT HANNA ARIE-GAIFMAN, DIRECTOR, TISCH CENTER FOR THE ARTS

As Director of 92nd Street Y’s Tisch Center for the Arts, Hanna Arie-Gaifman oversees 92Y’s concert series and Unterberg Poetry Center. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Hanna’s directorship. During her tenure, Hanna has introduced a number of new concert series, including Art of the Guitar, Words & Music and Family Music, as well as initiated over 80 premieres of new works and over 30 92Y commissions. Ms. Gaifman also oversees 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, which presents a world-renowned reading series featuring established and emerging novelists, poets, playwrights and biographers reading from and discussing their work; programs that examine the role of the critic; and staged readings, verse dramas and dramatic adaptations of literary texts.

CONCERT SCHOOLS PROJECT

The new 92Y Concerts Education Outreach Program serves students in New York City public high schools that lack the resources to fully support students in their musical development. The program focuses on public high schools struggling with such challenges as overcrowded classrooms, a paucity of music instructors, and minimal off-site enrichment opportunities. 92Y aims to reach at least 400 students—both in the classroom and in 92Y’s concert hall—over the course of 10 or more concerts selected from the 2015/16 season. 92Y staff, program coordinator, high school music teacher and teaching artists design and deliver interdisciplinary lessons that connect students’ academic goals with their experience at 92Y. Wherever possible, students meet the artists for a conversation on the night of the performance. Students are even given access to recordings by the artists.

For more information, visit www.92Y.org.

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