Thursday, May 31, 2012
This concert started in my mind with the idea of alternating electrical current, or more specifically the notion that extreme energy, and ultimately power, can be generated by alternating differing signal types in rapid succession. A quick glance at the program notes shows that this idea – switching back and forth between old (Classical) and new (Neo-Classical) music – is still very much alive.
Then I began to think about the very “Sympho” idea of using that generation of power to create something new and very large-scale, something specifically inspired by human aspirations.
Bionic Symphony is a large-scale work, composed of four “bionic symphonies” (Parts I, II, III, and IV in the program order), connected by interludes. The music in these “bionic symphonies” alternates between Classical (in this case by Mozart and Haydn) and Neoclassical (music that uses Classical forms and conventions as a starting point for the creative process) movements or short pieces.
What is a Symphony? In Reader’s Digest terms, it’s a musical piece of Classical origins, usually but not necessarily in four movements, where those movements were typically in the order fast-slow-dance-fast. (The dance movements could be slow or fast but were usually in triple meter.) The first movement is typically in sonata form, where (after an optional slow introduction) initial material is presented in an “exposition”, then toyed with in the“development”, and finally re-presented in more final terms in the “recapitulation”.
More importantly, and in terms we can all understand, a Symphony is a journey contemplated and then travelled, a problem encountered and then solved. As we progress from the Classical into the Romantic period, especially with composers like Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms, we start to encounter thematic and other organic links between movements. In some later instances (e.g., Sibelius’s Symphony No. 7), there are no breaks, yielding a Symphony in one movement.
Our “bionic symphonies” are designed to integrate the feeling and sweep of a Symphony: in either two, three, or four movements, they have their own journey to travel or their own problem to solve. Indeed, the evening as a whole, if you look at it carefully, is itself of Symphonic proportions: four movements, each with its own flavor, and designed with a forward momentum from beginning to end.
In the end, though, you'll be able to put all of that in the background, because this evening has been designed to transport you into an exciting, emotional space: a movie-length, nonstop, century-hopping smorgasbord of great music. I can't wait to share it all with you!
(Again, for tickets, click here.)
Sympho has invented a new performance concept, at once more accessible and visceral than the traditional concert-hall experience. Gone are the barriers separating orchestra from audience. Innovative theatrical techniques borrowed from contemporary theatre – alternative spatial positioning, lighting – help invigorate a concert-hall experience gone musty with tradition.