“The Course of Empire” at the Peabody Essex Museum on Saturday, July 30, was a success! The four performers (members of string orchestra A Far Cry), Liza Zurlinden, Ethan Wood, Jason Fisher, and Alexei Gonzales did a beautiful job of interpreting my string quartet. The group performed in Morse Auditorium beneath a large projection of the five paintings (provided by PEM), which were switched in real-time to correspond with each movement.
The music was preceded by a brief introductory video compiled from clips of videos I produced for Beyond the Notes, which provided context for Cole’s paintings and my musical “transmutation” of them (as curator Linda Ferber at the New-York Historical Society put it).
I made video and audio recordings of the performance, and will post clips online in the near future.
We counted roughly 140 people in the audience between the morning and afternoon concerts. That’s a great turnout for an event of this nature, and was bolstered by some remarkable publicity: the concert received a preview in the Boston Globe (read a scan of the article or see it on the Globe’s website) by Classical Notes columnist David Weininger. The article took up a full-page spread on p. 5 of the Arts & Entertainment insert on Friday, July 29. Weininger had the following to say about my companion website, Beyond the Notes:
“Far more extensive than the usual site devoted to an event or artwork, it contains not only reproductions of the Cole paintings and program notes, but a full performance of the piece and loads of information connecting the music and art.”
The concert took place in conjunction with the opening of Painting the American Vision, a special touring exhibit of 45 paintings by 19th century American landscape painters of the Hudson River School. This was the kind of event I’m really passionate about producing–an event that brings together art forms in what is both an artistic expression and an educational experience for audiences. I look forward to developing similar collaborations with art museums in the future.