Orchestra, artist share stage
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 12:54 p.m.
The history of music provides many examples of works inspired by the visual arts: Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and Morton Feldman's "Rothko Chapel" to name a few. Yet music lovers may be hard pressed to find examples of the opposite.
What: The Gainesville Chamber Orchestra performs while artist Eleanor Blair paints a new work for auction.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: University Auditorium, UF campus
Tickets: $25, $20 seniors, $10 students (392-2787)
On Friday in the University Auditorium, the Gainesville Chamber Orchestra will present the audience with an opportunity to see musical and visual art in action simultaneously. The concert will feature a unique guest soloist: artist Eleanor Blair.
The audience will experience "a work of art being created while a work of art is being performed," says Evans Haile, conductor of the orchestra. "People will be able to watch a painting appear," adds Blair, who will paint a work of art as the concert unfolds. "There is a wonderful synergy between the music and the process of painting."
Trained in New York City at The Cooper Union of the Advancement of Science in Art and living in Gainesville since 1971, Eleanor Blair is a well-known member of the regional and state-wide art community and has a plethora of still-life, architectural, and landscape paintings to her credit. "Her art work captures the essence of what our region is about," says Haile.
"Landscape really hooked me in a way that nothing else had before," adds Blair, who operates her own studio in downtown Gainesville. "And it gives me a good excuse to be out in nature and the world." "The painting ends up being a souvenir of the experience," she continues.
With Blair at the canvas and Haile on the podium, the Chamber Orchestra will perform a program that will focus on three composers who lived and worked in the United States.
Billed as "Deliciously Dvorak," the concert will feature Antonin Dvorak's "Symphony No. 8 in G major." The composer penned his "Eighth Symphony" in 1889, four years before he moved to New York City to accept the directorship of the National Conservatory of Music. The four-movement symphony opens with a Haydnesque slow introduction. A solemn, march-like introduction in G-minor, scored for winds and cellos, serves as a foil for the flute theme in G-major that follows.
The G minor melody reappears just before the development section of the first movement. The dramatic second movement features the woodwinds and solo violin while the third, reflecting folk characteristics in much symphonic music of the time, is cast as a modal waltz with trio rather than the traditional scherzo. The final movement is a set of theme and variations based upon a melody from the first movement.
George Whitefield Chadwick, a composer remembered today as an important member of the Second New England School in American art music of the late 19th century, penned his "Symphonic Sketches" between 1895 and 1904.
A collection of symphonic poems, the four sketches depict different visual references one would find in a collage or a snapshot album. The Chamber Orchestra will perform the first of these, entitled "Jubilee." In it, Chadwick employs the orchestral palette to bring the words of a poem - upon which the piece is based - to life: "No cool gray tones for me! /Give me the warmest red and green /A cornet and a tambourine /To paint my Jubilee!"
The orchestra also will perform a local favorite: Frederick Delius's "Florida Suite." Composed in 1887, the music recalls its British-born composer's experiences living in Florida, where he worked an orange plantation in Solano Grove from 1884 to 1885.
Through a kaleidoscopic combination of the orchestral instruments, Delius portrays the landscape - a full day on the plantation as well as the ebb and flow of the St. John's River - and draws from the melancholic phrases and syncopated rhythms plantation songs and dances. And much like Eleanor Blair's paintings of the Central Florida landscape, Delius's ""Florida Suite" captures a sense of Florida for those of us who live here," Haile remarks.
Friday's concert not only serves as a celebration of artistic collaboration, "but reminds us, in these trying financial times, how important the arts are," Haile adds. "The arts and how we interact with them are an important part of our lives," he says.
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