CELEBRATE YOUR COMMUNITY
Our Community Program
Community, Cameras & Classics™ is a straightforward way to create new, locally themed concert pieces from imagery sourced in and around your orchestra’s hometown. Sixty orchestras have already premiered their own community pieces, and audiences love seeing their town and surroundings on our big screen!
How it works
- Contact us to begin exploring visual themes and music options, and learn how to connect with local photo contributors.
- Organize a call for photo submissions from your community members and/or partner organizations.
- Our artist uses the photos to create a new concert piece, which he choreographs to your music selection.
- Your orchestra premieres the new piece, performed live by our artist. Orchestras frequently round out their programs with concert pieces from our existing repertoire.
Community pieces can be on nearly any topic you think will be a hit with your audience. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- local ANNIVERSARIES
- local BEAUTY
- local CREATIVITY
- local CULTURE
- local DIVERSITY
- local ENVIRONMENT
- local EVENTS
- local HEROES
- local HISTORY
- local KIDS
- local MUSIC
- local NONPROFITS
- local RECREATION
- local SIGHTS
- local TRADITIONS
- local YOUR GREAT IDEA
Featured community collaborations Akron Symphony
Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the only national park in Ohio—and literally right in Akron’s backyard. As an important fixture in the community, it was only natural that the ASO paid special tribute to Cuyahoga during the centennial year of the U.S. National Park Service.
Music Director Christopher Wilkins has been a longtime champion of photochoreography—this was our 5th collaboration in Akron—so the concept and music selection for the Cuyahoga piece came together quickly. To oversee the photo submission process, the ASO partnered directly with Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Over four months we received more than 1,600 photo submissions, showcasing Cuyahoga Valley through the seasons. The image subjects ranged from landscapes, wildlife and Cuyahoga’s impressive waterfalls to park visitors hiking, biking, trail running, or hitching a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The quality and variety of the photography provided a rich palette for the eventual multimedia production.
The resulting concert, “National Parks: Sights and Sounds,” included the new Cuyahoga piece plus three of our repertoire pieces: National Park Suite, Reflections of the Spirit and Grand Canyon Country, set to music selections by Copland, Barber and Grofé, respectively. To open the concert, there was also a thoughtful invocation and handheld-drum performance by Otto Braided Hair Jr. from the Northern Cheyenne tribe, who have maintained a strong connection to the Akron-Cuyahoga region.
DELIUS, Summer Evening
Cuyahoga Valley Photographic Society members and Akron-area amateur and professional photographers. Deer in meadow submitted by Jerry Jelinek. Owl and fall creek by Jim Roetzel and Dave Longfellow.
Featured community collaborations Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
The Boulder Phil asked us to help them salute the unsung heroes and community spirit of Boulder’s nonprofit organizations by creating a community piece titled Bravo Boulder. The Phil was also celebrating the 100th anniversary of Macky Auditorium, their beautiful concert hall on the University of Colorado campus. Added to this, they partnered with 11 of the city’s social service nonprofits.
Together, the organizations submitted hundreds of photographs from their archives depicting the good work their staff and volunteers do every day—as well as those being served. From that generous pool of images, we were able to choreograph a short but dynamic tribute to the people who are making Boulder a better place to live, set to Copland’s stirring Fanfare for the Common Man.
Many of the nonprofits involved staffed information tables in the hall’s lobby to interact with audience members before the concert and during intermission. Coincidentally, during the week of the concert a large-scale forest fire encroached on Boulder, increasing the sense of community togetherness surrounding the concert.
For the concert program, Conductor Michael Butterman dovetailed the performance of Bravo Boulder with our historical concert piece The Eternal Struggle, which depicts another hero, Abraham Lincoln, and the bravery and sacrifice of everyday citizens during both the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. The unique combination of community focus, programming, and external circumstances made for a very memorable concert.
COPLAND, Fanfare for the Common Man
Eleven social service nonprofits, including the Boulder County AIDS Project, Intercambio De Comunidades, and Boulder Shelter for the Homeless
Featured community collaborations Anchorage Symphony Orchestra
The state of Alaska is HUGE—and brimming with cultural and environmental distinctiveness! So when the Anchorage Symphony approached Westwater Arts to create a community piece, My Alaska: North of Ordinary, we were all in.
Early on, the ASO struck up a partnership with the Anchorage Museum to help spread the word and handle the call for photo submissions. The resulting pool of 3,500 impressive community-submitted images provided our artist, Nicholas Bardonnay, with a rich palette to depict the wildlife, and wild life, in Alaska.
The ASO’s project statement captured the spirit of this ambitious project: “North of Ordinary—what makes Alaska so? Is it spectacular panoramas? Abundant wildlife? Auroras? Darkness? Midnight sun? A land both beautiful and harsh? Soothing and dangerous? Is it our people? Are we independent? Rebels? Pioneers? Quirky? Friendly? Reclusive? Urban? Rural? Fun? Boring? Adventurous? Determined? Survivors? Adaptive? What compels us to be here?”
Together with ASO Music Director Randall Craig Fleischer, we selected the lovely first movement from Copland’s Tender Land for the choreography. Also on the program was the world premiere of Sagaland, which Nicholas created to showcase the epic volcanic landscapes of Iceland. Our double-concert collaboration was a big hit with the ASO’s audience; we had dozens of enthusiastic audience members approach us afterwards. Dana Anderson, a concertgoer, said that she “didn’t want to blink!” during the performance.
COPLAND, Tender Land Orchestral Suite, Mvt. I
Anchorage-area amateur and professional photographers, and the Anchorage Museum. Grizzly family submitted by Wayde Carroll. Kayaker and village photos by Paxson Woelber and Mark Lovegreen.
Featured community collaborations Toledo Symphony Orchestra
Across Toledo is a network of green spaces set aside for the metro area’s 650,000 residents. Toledo’s 14 Metroparks provide not only breathing room for Ohio’s 4th largest city, but also a place to experience Northern Ohio’s Lake Erie-influenced landscapes and wildlife. Our project with the TSO, Sacred Places, explored those places and their close relationship with the Toledo community for the orchestra’s season-closing pops concert.
The impetus for the new community piece was the TSO’s desire to celebrate—and tip its own hat—to the beauty and recreational opportunities that exist right in Toledo. Like many cities in the Great Lakes region, the “Glass City” saw an industrial boom that eventually faded. So Toledo is now remaking itself, and in the process the city set aside large parcels of undeveloped land for the sake of keeping its people and its ecosystem healthy. Many of the city’s Metroparks center around the Maumee River, which runs right past downtown Toledo on its way out to Lake Erie.
Early on in the project the TSO partnered with Metroparks Toledo, the organization charged with overseeing the park system. They also attracted the attention of Toledo.com, which offered a space for project participants to upload their image submissions, in addition to providing advertising for the project and the forthcoming concert.
After several months, at the close of our submission window, we received over 1,500 submissions from a wide spectrum of Toledo-area amateur and professional photographers as well as hand-picked selections from the vast digital archives of Metroparks Toledo itself. Our artist Nicholas Bardonnay sorted, selected, and then finally choreographed the imagery to a wonderful contemporary musical work chosen by the TSO: the second and fourth movements from Evan Chamber’s Four Sacred Places. Chambers, an Ohio native, composed the work back in 2014 as part of a TSO commission honoring four of Toledo’s Metroparks. Our 2017 community project gave the TSO an opportunity to revisit the work and give it additional meaning and dimensions through a visual medium.
The resulting concert, led by the TSO’s talented Resident Conductor Sara Jobin, also featured two nice visual counterpoints to the locally themed project from our repertoire. National Park Suite, set to Dvořák’s beautiful Largo movement, showcases dozens of National Parks and Monuments from across the country. Closing out the program was our lively piece Rodeo!, which captures not only a small-town rodeo from behind-the-scenes, but a broader portrait of life in the lively and beautiful American West.
The enthusiasm of the audience at the sold-out concert made for a really special night.
CHAMBERS, Four Sacred Places, Mvts. II. & IV.
Metroparks Toledo, Toledo-area amateur and professional photographers, and Toledo.com, which collected the image submissions. Maumee River cityscape photo submitted by Elizabeth Johnson. Bridge and canoe photos submitted by Art Weber.
Featured community collaborations Fort Collins Symphony
With the gorgeous Rockies as a backdrop and a Main Street that inspired Disneyland, Fort Collins’ adventurous and forward-thinking residents, and their small army of beloved dogs, have a slew of fun activities at hand…and paw. Our community collaboration with the Fort Collins Symphony was a foot-stomping tribute to Fort Collins that filled the concert hall—and made the pages of Symphony magazine.
From biking, rock climbing and rodeo to solar energy and craft beer, Fort Collins has something for everyone. Shortly after a collaboration in Louisiana with Maestro Wes Kenney, the Fort Collins Symphony approached Westwater Arts to create a multimedia portrait of their energetic community.
The FCS received over 500 community photographs in response to their call for submissions, and their partners, the City of Fort Collins and Visit Fort Collins, opened their photo archives as well. Combined, these sources created a diverse visual palette for multimedia artist Nicholas Bardonnay to put together the resulting piece, which the FCS titled Fort Fun!
The music pairings were short and lively: Nicholas choreographed Fort Fun! to Richard Meyer’s A Fiddler’s Fancy and Calvin Custer’s Central Coach Special. Adding to the excitement was a photo contest. The audience voted on their favorite three images, and each winner received their photo, framed, and a set of FCS concert tickets.
Symphony magazine wrote about this special collaboration in “The Score” section for their Summer 2016 edition. You can read the brief article “Community Lens” here. The FCS “Image-ination” concert also featured two pieces from the Westwater Arts repertoire: Pacifica, set to Mahler’s Adagietto, and
Reflections of the Spirit, set to Barber’s Adagio.
MEYER, A Fiddler’s Fancy
CUSTER, Central Coach Special
Fort Collins-area amateur and professional photographers, Visit Fort Collins, and the City of Fort Collins. Fly fishing dog photo submitted by Vic Schendel. Bike commute and climber photo by City of Fort Collins and Joshua Beecher.
Featured community collaborations Singapore Chinese Orchestra
The SCO wanted to do something special to mark the 25th anniversary of the country’s largest media company—and a key sponsor of the orchestra—Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). Maestro Tsung Yeh saw the potential for creating a new multimedia piece with us after programming symphonic photochoreography with his stateside orchestra, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.
The musical selections for the visual piece were newly composed by two Singaporeans, Eric Watson and Law Wai Lun. During the production stage recordings of the music did not yet exist, so we used MIDI versions for the initial choreography. The photography for the piece we hand-picked from the vast 25-year SPH photojournalism archives.
Singapore is a relatively young country, so the photo archives at SPH document much of the country’s history as well as its unique multicultural mix. When blended with the music, the result was a visual-musical montage aptly titled Portrait of Singapore. Some of the topics included Singapore’s cityscape, its people, multicultural heritage, history, diverse religions, festivals, sports, outdoor markets, and the island’s coastal and jungle surroundings.
The two gala concerts were held in the Esplanade, the country’s largest performing arts space, and featured music from both East and West to reflect Singapore’s history as a cultural crossroads. Two Chinese musical works, Torrents of the River and Night Thought, featured a soloist performing the exotic guanzi and jinghu reed and string instruments. Also on the program was Vanishing Forest, one of our existing concert pieces, which depicts the beauty and diversity of the tropical rainforest and is set to Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending.
WATSON, Sea–Source of Life
Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.
Featured community collaborations Springfield Symphony Orchestra
Like much of the Midwest, the medium-size city of Springfield, Ohio, is surrounded by farmland. When the SSO decided to focus an entire concert series on agriculture and rural life, they asked us to help them celebrate their community’s heritage. The project united local farm families, area photographers, eight partner organizations, and created the impetus for the SSO’s successful $105,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The resulting triple concert series “Agriculture and the Arts: Growing Together” was the first of its kind, and led to the creation of three new community pieces collectively titled Our Fields, Farms and Families.
Over 3,000 photos were received from a variety of sources: area amateur and professional photographers, 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) student clubs, and over 50 local farms. During the concerts, when the SSO’s Music Director Peter Stafford Wilson asked audience members to stand if they were past or present members of the FFA or 4-H, and over half of the sold-out crowd rose to their feet.
To further compliment the concert theme, Maestro Wilson programmed musical selections by Copland, Virgil Thomson’s The Plow that Broke the Plains, as well as a unique work by contemporary composer Steve Heitzeg, Symphony to the Prairie Farm, that incorporated an array of percussion instruments made from prairie grasses, stones, farm implements and buffalo bones.
Among the eight partnering organizations that helped support the project and get the word out to their constituents were the Clark County Farm Bureau, The Ohio State University Extension, the Clark County Heritage Center, and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. The novelty of the concert theme and the popularity of the event garnered an Associated Press article that circulated across 52 newspapers nationwide.
COWELL, Old American Country Set
Springfield-area amateur and professional photographers, 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) student clubs, and over 50 local farm families
Featured community collaborations Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra
Colorado National Monument is a beautiful red-rock recreational area with steep canyon walls rising just outside Grand Junction, Colorado. As the 100th anniversary of the Monument’s founding approached, we began talking with GJSO Music Director Kirk Gustafson about putting together a multimedia tribute for his community’s focal point.
For the musical component of the new piece, the GJSO commissioned Monument to Color and Light, an original eight-minute composition by Eric Ewazen.
The collaboration joined the GJSO together with several other project partners: the National Park Service, who manages the Monument, as well as the local newspaper and many of the area’s photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The resulting 700+ photo submissions covered a range of topics, from the majestic desert scenery to the activities of local outdoor thrill seekers. The National Park Service and Grand Junction’s The Daily Sentinel provided additional collections of black and white historical photography showing the Monument’s progression over the years.
“A Monumental Celebration” was the symphony’s season opener, preceded by two packed educational concerts as well as a family concert. Before each concert, a uniformed National Park Service official reflected from the stage about how the collaboration came together and their appreciation for the community’s many years of support. For the GJSO, the concerts brought about two new sponsors and helped build a nice partnership with the National Park Service.
EWAZEN, Monument to Color and Light
National Park Service, The Daily Sentinel, and many local photographers and outdoor enthusiasts. Grand Junction at twilight submitted by Rob Kurtzman. Cowboy and road race photos provided by The Daily Sentinel.
Featured community collaborations Britt Festival Orchestra
The oldest summer music festival in the Pacific Northwest wanted to go all out for their 50th anniversary season. Oregon’s Britt Festival commissioned us to create a new community piece using their own large image collection that documents the past 50 years of outdoor performances and the orchestra’s three music directors to date, including Peter Bay, who finished his 20-year tenure that season.
In the image collection were early photographs taken by Peter Britt—the festival’s namesake and a celebrated philosopher king—of the festival’s hometown in Jacksonville. The sprawling hillsides of his family’s estate still serve as the festival’s concert grounds today.
Contemporary photographs, however, were the main focus of the visual piece, which emphasized the festival’s community and educational initiatives, complemented by portraits of audience members, musicians and guest artists, among other topics.
With much fanfare, the August anniversary concert commenced for a large audience under the stars. The 15-minute celebratory piece we assembled was set to Copland’s expressive Tender Land Suite. Also on the program were Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 and Respighi’s wonderful Pines of Rome. As the concert title suggests, it was a night filled with “Music, Memories, and Magic.”
COPLAND, Tender Land Orchestral Suite
Community program testimonials
A great evening that connected on all fronts: the mind and the heart, the eyes and the ears.Michael Butterman, Music Director and Conductor
Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
It was an instant success.Tsung Yeh, Music Director and Conductor
Singapore Chinese Orchestra
The piece both visually and aurally captured the spirit of this breathtaking community.Mary Kopco, Executive Director
Fort Collins Symphony
Thank you for all the work you have done to show the true beauty of our valley.Ryan Ainger, Park Ranger
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
One of the most innovative and synergetic vehicles for community involvement that I have ever encountered in the concert hall.Peter Stafford Wilson, Music Director and Conductor
Springfield Symphony Orchestra (OH)
It was a pleasure working with you on such a well-done and well-received presentation.Scott Carpenter, Director of Public Relations
We score this project an unqualified success.Brooke Creswell, Music Director Emeritus
Yakima Symphony Orchestra
The experience we just had at the LBSO with photochoreography was one of joy and upliftment.Priscilla Munson, Artistic Director
Long Beach Symphony Orchestra