Monday 19 November 2012

Liquid colours in Salzburg Mozarteum Dialogues Festival

Liquid colours in Salzburg Mozarteum Dialogues Festival

Gro├čer Saal der Stiftung Mozarteum

Performing in the grand Concertgebouw is always quite an experience, but the large hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum (above) appears to be even more elaborately decorated. No, sorry, we can’t hang your screen from the ceiling. Yes, we can raise the large chandeliers a bit. Psst! Don’t even mention the danger of splashing paint on to that stage! (It won’t happen). I can’t help a naughty giggle, thinking of the shocking moment when my projections will escape “out of the box” (screen) and the paint will appear to spread all over those oh-so-splendid walls. My hat goes off to the adventurous Festival director Matthias Schulz, for bringing an artist’s work-table, paints, jam-pots an’ all, into this distinguished Mozart shrine. I think Wolfgang Amadeus would have loved it - it’s almost opera.

Welcome to Salzburg. No, this isn’t the famous Salzburg Festival, but the contemporary festival of the Mozarteum Foundation. The Dialogues festival was established to celebrate the Mozart Year in 2006. “It’s primarily aimed at an audience which is open to a controversial, contemporary take on new and classical music. For this purpose, the festival invites contemporary artists from the disciplines of music, dance, literature, fine arts, and film. This interdisciplinary approach of the Dialogues festival seeks to move beyond the traditional concert protocol and develop unusual, powerful listening situations.”

The Piano Colours programme with pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and my live kinetic painting fits into this concept perfectly. Our dialogue is between colour and sound. Pierre-Laurent’s painterly interpretation of Debussy’s Preludes reveal the composer’s genius at creating images in sound: he doesn’t need me to paint to that music. But these pieces are cleverly juxtaposed with works by Liszt, Scriabin, Tristan Murail and George Benjamin. And that’s where I come in, with visual harmony. 

Oh goodness – the composer Murail himself will be in the hall, watching for the first time the kinetic visuals I shall create to his beautifully resonant Cloches d’adieu, et un sourire (In memoriam Olivier Messiaen). It’s always a tense moment, wondering how a composer will react to my treatment of his “off-spring”. Well, I have Pierre-Laurent on my side. (Liszt and Scriabin can’t comment right now).

November 30th will be a long day: unload, set up and fine-tune projection gear, paints, brushes at 8.00 am, rehearse with PLA, rest, performance at 7.30pm, then right after the concert a verbal dialogue with the audience. Then, if I’m still alive, no doubt a stimulating discussion over a fine meal with some of the brightest brains in music today. More inter-disciplinary dialogue is exactly what classical music needs right now, as Bob Singleton has been telling us for ages in his blogs.

And this day is just one event in an intriguing festival. Can’t wait to get involved! See you there? For more details and tickets, go to:

Dialogues Festival - Piano Colours, November 30th. 7.30pm. Stiftung Mozarteum, Schwarzstrasse 26, Salzburg.

Friday 9 November 2012

Touch and go with the elements

Touch and go with the elements.

(my notes from November 5th. 2012).

From birth, we are in touch with water daily, even bathe in it happily. With fresh air, water is possibly our greatest friend. Yet its power remains to be feared. 

The sun shines brilliantly this Sunday morning in New York’s Central Park and Ella Fitzgerald sings Autumn Leaves to me. But there’s a lot of sadness in the cold air this morning. I weave my way between thousands of frustrated runners as they demonstrate that the cancellation of the Marathon will not inhibit their daily rituals. And I’m thinking of those still without their homes, without power and their basic needs, as winter sets in.

How come we can’t befriend our natural resources instead of misusing them and arrogantly thinking it doesn’t matter? Will we ever heed Sandy’s awful message?

In a comparatively microscopic way, I’m totally at home in water(colour), wondering at and manipulating the organic flow, evaporation rates or delicate textures that emerge as I paint. Even on a small surface it has the inevitable destructive potential of a tsunami. The projection of this on a giant screen is awesome. Here’s just one example from my performances of kinetic painting:
The opening calligraphic rhythms on a silken background, kinetic images created for Written on the Wind: Huang Ruo’s music for pipa, vocals and visuals, created for Min Xiao-Fen.

Watch the video of Written on the Wind (parts 1 & 2) on YouTube: