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Pacific Symphony celebrates the 100th Anniversary of Stravinsky's monumental work-The Rite of Spring
May 15, 2013
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 that continue through June 8. 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—culminating with a party on the arts plaza, featuring the Symphony’s second “Inside and Out” Plazacast and Community Celebration—a free live simulcast of the concert projected onto the wall of Segerstrom Hall. Arrive early (5 p.m.) and enjoy activity booths and a slate of community ensembles performing on the arts plaza. For more information, call (714) 755-5799 or visit PacificSymphony.org.
Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the festival also includes: The Sacre Project—part art installation, part performance piece—a cross-disciplinary project created by artists from UC Irvine’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts; the ReRite Project (remix, reinterpret and/or reimagine!), a call for artworks of all kinds (art, music, dance); video dance booth; and, of course, concerts—led by Music Director Carl St.Clair—featuring the provocative work itself.
“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 significant and influential classical 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 witnessed Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky conduct and yet also lived to 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 Rite of Spring” 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.
INSIDE: THE CONCERTS The festival of events centers around performances of the composer’s provocative “The Rite of Spring” (last performed by the orchestra in 2008), led by Maestro St.Clair, on Thursday-Saturday, June 6-8, at 8 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall (preview talk with Alan Chapman 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,” with soprano Susana Poretsky accompanied by pianist Hye-Young Kim; 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.
“Rite of Spring”—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.
OUTSIDE: PLAZACAST COMMUNITY FESTIVAL
The concert on Saturday, June 8, is part of a prismatic celebration of the 100th anniversary of “The Rite of Spring,” which features the second free “Inside and Out” Plazacast, a live simulcast of “The Rite of Spring,” presented in association with Segerstrom Center for the Arts and taking place on the plaza outside the concert hall. (The first Plazacast took place last June for the Symphony’s season finale with a performance of “Beethoven Ninth” that attracted several thousand attendees.) The festivities for “The Rite of Spring Turns 100, begin at 5 p.m. with activity booths and performances by community ensembles (see list below) on the plaza prior to the start of the simulcast. The activity booths present live movement and art created by students from Momentum, Watson Dance and The Drawing Board, followed by an opportunity for the public to create with their bodies and hands and/or Make Your Own ReRite—an iPad activity that uses Garage Band to remix and re-imagine Stravinsky’s music. (No musical training is necessary.) Remixes are shared via ReRite of Spring (see more on this below).
The public is invited to come early, bring chairs and blankets, and picnic on the plaza, while enjoying the music, a preview at 7:30 p.m. and live interviews during intermission led by KUSC host Rich Capparela with key guest artists, beginning a half hour before the concert begins at 8 p.m. A selection of food is available for purchase. This unique event is free and open to the public with no ticket required.
The first 100 people to arrive receive a free pair of tickets to select concerts at the Symphony’s Summer Festival 2013!
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
5 p.m.: Food trucks and activity booths open
5:10-5:25 p.m.: Fortunates Woodwind Quartet
5:30-5:50 p.m.: Laguna Flutes
6-6:35 p.m.: Helix Collective
6:45-7 p.m.: Santa Ana Strings
7 p.m.: Alan Chapman Preview (in hall)
7 p.m.: The Sacre Project (Samueli)
7:30 p.m.: Rich Capparela preview (plaza)
8 p.m.: Concert (in hall)/Plazacast (on plaza) begins
MORE INSIDE! THE SACRE PROJECT
The Rite celebration kicked off earlier this year 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. First launching at UCI on Feb. 20, the project moves to the Samueli Theater (next to the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall), where the public is invited to enjoy a free but ticketed performance. Sacre performances take place before and after the Symphony concerts (at 7 p.m. and approximately 10:15 p.m.), June 6-8. Those wishing to attend The Sacre Project do not need to be Symphony concertgoers but tickets are required and may be reserved by calling (714) 755-5799. Depending on inventory, tickets may be available on the nights of the performances.
Essentially part media installation and part dance, The Sacre Project re-envisions “The Rite of Spring” as a radically deconstructed performance event. While 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. The digital media installation remixes sections of “The Rite of Spring,” presented with small groups of dancers in “pods” around the room. The audience walks through the room to watch and listen on their own terms. The dancers then transform the space into a performance, as the event concludes with the sacrificial dance from “The Rite of Spring.”
“It’s truly a collaborative project,” says Crawford. “While our school’s choreographers, designers, dancers and musicians dug deep into the heritage of this hugely influential work, our guiding vision was to create a new work that integrates digital media with the performing arts to embody a ‘Rite of Spring’ for the 21st century.” ALSO! VIDEO DANCE BOOTH On the night of the concerts, June 6-8, in the lobby of the concert hall, a “video dance booth” —created in conjunction with UC Irvine’s Crawford—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 The Sacre Project. The result is a custom-personalized dance video that can be shared in the social media space. The booth made its debut at Grand Central Art Center during the Artwalk on May 4 in downtown Santa Ana.
RERITING THE RITE OF SPRING
The creatively inclined are taking part in the ReRite Project and remixing, reinterpreting and/or reimagining this influential piece of music through modern-day sensibilities. It’s not too late to become a part of history: submit to ReRiteofSpring.org new artworks of all types (music, art, dance pieces) —no boundaries! The project includes presentations of selected works on view in various settings (eg., the concert hall lobby, at the Plazacast and other exhibition spaces) in collaboration with arts partners. But hurry! To be considered for display during the concerts, submissions must be received by May 31. Resources are available on the website, including orchestral samples available for downloading and remixing. All submissions are being aggregated on the ReRite website for viewing, to inspire new creations and collaborations, and to also serve in perpetuity as a public tribute to the centennial.
“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.”
The ReRite project visits the Center for Living Peace, as part of its third anniversary celebration, on Saturday, May 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., with activities that include ReRite of Spring iPad workshops and “Spring Beats” percussion activities. The Center, founded on the belief that “good happens,” offers a variety of community programs, events and service opportunities that give back and make good happen in the community.
SYMPOSIUM AT UCI
UCI is planning a free “Symposium with Tony Palmer,” which 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 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.
Pacific Symphony’s classical series performances are made possible by the Hal and Jeanette Segerstrom Family Foundation, with additional support from American Airlines, The Westin South Coast Plaza, KUSC and PBS SoCal.
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