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“Imagine That!” Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings partners with The Studio at Sage Hill to inspire creativity in music and art during season finale concert and exhibition
March 25, 2014
In a partnership that celebrates human imagination and creativity, Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings (PSSS) is joined by The Studio at Sage Hill to present “Imagine That!,” a concert and art exhibit that showcase the relationship between the two art forms. For their season finale, PSSS highlights a display of student artwork inspired by Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” in a pre-concert lobby exhibition and onscreen in a slideshow synced to the performance. Led by Music Director Irene Kroesen, PSSS also performs Mascagni’s Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “Charterhouse Suite” by Vaughan Williams and Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Bacchanale” from “Samson and Delilah.” The concert takes place Saturday, April 27, at 3 p.m., in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Admission is free. The artwork, created by Sage Hill high school students and 6th -9th graders from across the county, is also being featured in an art show at The Studio at Sage Hill on March 27, where a chamber ensemble from PSSS performs.
“The intent was to unite both performing and visual artists in a specific project to promote arts awareness in the community,” says Kroesen. “Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ was inspired by the artwork of Viktor Hartmann and depicts an imaginary tour of an art collection. Pacific Symphony Santiago Strings reversed the concept. We asked young artists in the community and Sage Hill School to be inspired by Mussorgsky’s music to create visual art pieces.”
Mussorgsky’s piece, written in honor of his late friend and painter Hartmann after attending an exhibition of his drawings and watercolors, is his most famous work—and for this concert, PSSS performs a string arrangement by Carrie Lane Gruselle. To celebrate this magnificent music, students all over Orange County listened to Mussorgsky’s musical masterpiece and were invited to create artwork based on one movement or several.
“Both art and music have over centuries influenced not only social but also political change,” continues Kroesen. “Through the artistry of composers and artists, music and art have pushed the limits of its acceptance into everyday life, not just for the elite but also for the common man.”
The young string musicians open their concert with the uniquely English music of Vaughan Williams in his “Charterhouse Suite,” bright and clear, with unexpected harmonic twists. Then, the sublime beauty of Mascagni’s Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana” allows them to shine and is memorable for its use in well-known films such as “The Godfather, Part III.” The finale stirs with passion, drama and exoticism, as PSSS concludes their season with an exuberant rendition of Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Bacchanale,” from his opera “Samson and Delilah.”
“Each season, I want our orchestra members to experience the wealth of excellent string orchestra literature of major composers such as ‘Charterhouse Suite’ by Vaughan-Williams,” says Kroesen. “In addition, I select other works that challenge and promote musical growth as well as creating an enjoyable learning experience. The amount of musical growth of our musicians is vast. Their technical skills are challenged throughout the music, as well as their ensemble playing in creating performances that will raise heightened emotional responses from our audience. I am excited by this concert and look forward to having them experience the true art of making music!”
While led by Kroesen, a respected veteran teacher of the Irvine Unified School District, PSSS also benefits from the artistic guidance of the Symphony’s Music Director Carl St.Clair. Representing 32 schools in and beyond Orange County, PSSS provides an experience that nurtures the confidence, poise and musical sensitivity of young musicians through the study and performance of outstanding string orchestra literature. PSSS serves instrumentalists in grades 6 through 9 and is one of three Youth Ensembles programs offered by Pacific Symphony. Each season, students enjoy an interaction with Maestro St.Clair, as well as interactions with guest artists and professional musicians of the Symphony. Students also engage in an annual weekend retreat and are offered free and discounted tickets to Symphony performances throughout the season.
The Studio at Sage Hill provides unique opportunities in the arts through intentional relationships with its community, both on a local and global level. Located on the campus of Sage Hill School, The Studio is a space for collaboration between professionals, educators and students. Through performances, installations and educational workshops, The Studio serves as a beacon for cultural awareness, thoughtful discussion, experimentation, risk-taking and creative thought. The Studio at Sage Hill is committed to utilizing its unique position within its community to make art and arts education accessible to all individuals.
“PSSS approached The Studio at Sage Hill because Sage Hill has a high quality visual and performing arts program,” says Melissa Craig, the Symphony’s director of youth ensembles. “This is a unique opportunity for both organizations because neither has worked with an orchestra or visual art project in this capacity or along this nature of creative presentation. I’m most excited for our students to see the artwork that was inspired by this project, and how that may affect or provoke their music-making. I feel it is important for young musicians and artists to be introduced to different inspirational avenues of creativity and self-expression.”
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