Sunday, 21 October 2012

Synchronicity continued: Netherlands Symphony Orchestra with birds

Synchronicity continued: Netherlands Symphony Orchestra with birds

It was a joyous three-way collaboration: performing Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus (Concerto for birds and orchestra and, in this case, for kinetic painting). Joyous perhaps in part because my projectors were set up on stage (in front of the winds, behind the strings), so I had become part of the orchestra. The score is such that various sections of the orchestra alternately had nothing to play. So when they didn’t need to watch the excellent conductor Anthony Hermus, they would repeatedly turn round to watch my continuously developing visuals on-screen. They could see, that with my paint brush, I was playing from the same page, so to speak and that moreover, I had memorized the whole piece and was absolutely in unison. I had totally absorbed this work physically and spiritually. This realization meant that they were all so friendly and complimentary throughout the week. Violinist Carla Leurs, their leader, came up to me afterwards almost with tears in her eyes, from her experience of the harmony of my images with their splendid sound. And I really felt that I had become one of them – for a would-be musician, a dream come true. By the end I was emotionally drained.
My "bird" instruments

Some people said that this was my best performance so far. That’s what you always hope they will say, but I think this audience was blown away by the way I apparently harnessed the organic powers of nature. A young lady from Finland said she got an intense feeling of the vast expanses and the northern lights of her homeland. 

Yes, as expected, the synchronization of the taped bird-song with the orchestra was different every time and that was just fine, because the improvisatory element was part of my visual choreography.

I have put my studio-rehearsal of this work on video and will post it soon.

Rautavaara writes in his score “Think of autumn”. Now back home in our fourth-floor Amsterdam apartment, in the tree-tops of autumn leaves, I’m tired but very happy. Tomorrow I’m off to carry out commissions in New York and to enjoy the beautiful falling leaves in Central Park. 


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