(An in-depth review)
the earliest records of Western culture, artists have sought ways
to combine the visual, musical and poetic arts into a single art
ancient Greeks and their renaissance disciples believed, in fact,
that this combination would promote a spiritual transcendence
that would place human beings in synchrony with the music of the
universe. It was a similar aesthetic experience that composers
such as Richard Wagner aimed for in his Gesamtkunstwerk (combined
artwork), which culminated in the 'Ring cycle.'
people today subscribe to this notion of aesthetic transcendence,
but many artists still look for ways to combine the arts to provide
new perspectives and ways of apprehending art. One of these creative
artists is photographer James Westwater, a superb still photographer
who weds his work with classical music in a technique he calls
of Westwater's works were presented by the North Carolina Symphony
in their Raleigh series on November 16 and 17. ...
the movies, music's role is to emphasize, or at best symbolize,
the action on the screen. Westwater's approach reverses this process.
He creates visual compositions to match the images the music arouses
in him. In concert, the pictures are projected on a giant three-section
screen above and in front of the orchestra. Westwater, who 'performs'
on six slide projectors, displays his stunning photographic images
to accompany the subtle changes in the mood of the music.
panoramas, single panels or thematically related triptychs of
photography fade on and off the screen in precise synchronization
with the musical phrases and rhythmic patterns.
of the Spirit,
composed in 1994, is an homage to the ancient Anasazi Indians,
the ancestors of today's Navajo [and other tribes], who reside
in the Four Corner[s] area of the Southwest. The work opens
with a recitation of an ancient Native American invocation to
the Great Spirit, which was declaimed by Betty 'Red Ant' LaFontaine,
a full-blooded Navajo. Most of the photographs of this magnificent
mesa country were taken at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and Canyon
de Chelly. The serenity of [the composer's] music, performed
sensitively by the orchestra, matches the serenity of the landscape
with its lights and shadows as the sun completes a full day's
Love for the Land,
is an homage to [America's heartland], its beauty and its
people. The images follow the year, from snow to leaf fall,
with images of the wild mountains, cultivated valleys and
their rugged inhabitants. ... Westwater's images, as well
as his photochoreography, were always in sync with the spirit
and rhythm of the music.
a preconcert lecture, Westwater admitted that musical purists
are often somewhat leery of his work. But after experiencing
his photochoreography, it's clear to us that there is little
essential difference between Westwater and George Balenchine,
who set classical scores for dancers. ...
inspiring marriage of the arts spurred the Symphony to superior
performances of the [scores].
would like to see him spread the inspiration, perhaps utilizing
his tremendous creative talent in the CD-ROM arena, where
adults and children could experience and even create their
own multimedia responses to music. Another way to vary the
hair color in our concert halls? Perhaps." --The Independent, Durham,
Photochoreography engagements include the principal orchestras of Cleveland, Toronto, Pittsburgh,
Seattle, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Dallas, Vancouver, Baltimore, Milwaukee,
Detroit, Cincinnati, Saint Paul, Indianapolis, Houston, Portland,
Denver, Saint Louis, Columbus, Rochester, Buffalo, Salt Lake City, Singapore and Scotland, plus over 150more >
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