Melding Music with Art

Melding Music with Art

Musings from the Maestro

Have you seen the Calder Miro exhibit that recently opened at The Phillips Collection? Great! Then you know that this uplifting exhibit is as much about the extraordinary friendship between these two artistic giants as it is about their art. Their lively exchange of letters and art are incorporated into a remarkable exhibit that traces their friendship over the course of five decades. They redefined art as they inspired one another to push its boundaries to create new forms of human expression.

This weekend our very own Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with The Phillips Collection, will be celebrating this landmark exhibit in a concert entitled, well ... Calder Miro! We will be exploring the friendship and mutual artistic influences of another pair of artists that also met in Paris in the 1920s, whose mutual artistic influences also matured over a five decade period, and whose relationship also challenged both artists to push the boundaries of their art ... creating new models and standards for human expression. Like Calder, one of these artists worked in a medium of movement. We will be celebrating the enormously prolific relationship between composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer George Balanchine.

Soloists from The Washington Ballet will dance a pas de deux from Balanchine’s landmark work entitled "Jewels." In this lavish masterpiece, Balanchine recreates the three distinct ballet traditions which he embodied. In "Emeralds" he evokes the French Romantic tradition employing the heartachingly beautiful Pelleas and Melisande by Gabriel Faure. "Rubies" is crisp and witty, epitomizing the American style and masterful collaborations with Igor Stravinsky. Legendary pianist Alan Mandel will be performing Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra with two soloists from The Washington Ballet dancing the original Balanchine choreography. Closing this monumental work, "Diamonds" recalls the grandeur of Imperial Russia and the Mariinsky Theater, where Balanchine was trained.

This is all a part of the ASO’s "Where Does the Music Take You?" theme in a season entitled "Listen to the Art, Envision the Music." Each concert event will assume the personality of the museum exhibit. For example, the Oct. 2 performance of Caliphs and Kings took on the character of the Smithsonian’s Sackler & Freer’s exhibit of the same name. The entire concert was imbued with the character of Flamenco — Flamenco dancing, flamenco guitar playing (with a regional premiere of a flamenco guitar concerto), flamenco singing, a Flamenco ballet by Manuel de Falla entitled El Amor Brujo, Rimsky-Korsakov’s flamenco Capriccio Espagnol, and a Flamenco inspired art exhibit by a living artist.

This weekend's concert will be infused with the playful spirit of the Calder Miro exhibit at The Phillips Collection. Upon entering Schlesinger Concert Hall and Art Center you will be enveloped by the whimsical and colorful work of a group of nationally recognized artists. Like Calder their art defies gravity and embodies a sense of child-like play and wonder.

Ah, but upon entering the concert hall you will see something that I'm sure you have never seen before! Suspended above the heads of the orchestra — and yes, my head too! — will be a 30-foot-long Calder-inspired mobile that will literally move to the movements and air currents of the musicians and dancers. It will be in the spirit of the Phillip’s exhibit — fun, evoking child-like wonder, and in the way it makes the connection between music and art — breathtaking in its simplicity.

"Where Does the Music Take You?" Well, only you know! Let your imaginations be unleashed this Saturday night to explore Listen to the Art, Envision the Music ... Calder Miro with your very own Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, in collaboration with The Phillips Collection.

See you there!