On Saturday, October 6, 2007, at 8:00 PM at The Alexander Kasser Theater on the campus of Montclair State University, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Peak Performances @ Montclair present the world premiere of an original multimedia work, In the Grace of the World – a concert production of music and video imagery woven together to create an artistic reflection of man’s interaction with nature, and how we integrate ourselves spiritually in the world around us. Taking its title and inspiration from the Wendell Berry poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” In the Grace of the World features three works by the Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks, much of whose music concerns itself with the relationship between man and nature, as well as works by Arvo Pärt, Toru Takemitsu, Alan Hovhaness, Charles Ives, and J.S. Bach.
by Annie Loui, In the Grace of the World
also features the work of Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz, lighting designer; Wes Skiles,
nature cinematographer (from whom the Orchestra of St. Luke’s has commissioned
new underwater images for this piece); Chris Welsby, film/video/new media
artist; and Scott Snibbe, electronic media artist. Using these elements, co-creators Elizabeth
Ostrow (Vice President, Artistic Planning for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s) and
Annie Loui (director/choreographer and creator of intermedia performance) have
made a work evoking man’s interaction with his surroundings and his search for
spiritual meaning. The work highlights
the virtuosity and flexibility of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s with a program
ranging from full orchestral compositions to solo instrumental works featuring
Elizabeth Mann, flute; Myron Lutzke, cello; and Carl Albach, trumpet.
Zhang, the dynamic associate conductor of the New York Philharmonic, makes her
first of two OSL appearances this season (the second will be her Carnegie Hall
debut with the orchestra on February 8, 2008) conducting this premiere
The central musical voice of In the Grace of the World belongs to Pēteris Vasks, three of whose works – Landscape with Birds for solo flute (1980); Cantabile for string orchestra (1979); and Message for orchestra (1982) – anchor the evening. Born in Latvia in 1946, Vasks has, according to the biography by his publisher, Schott Music, “included archaic folkloric elements of Latvian music in his compositions. Most of his works have programmatic titles which refer to natural occurrences. But what really matters to Vasks is not a poetic praise of nature or a landscape description as aesthetic ideal. The mutual relation between nature and man, the beauty of life and the threatening ecological and moral destruction of these values – these are the subjects that Vasks has taken up primarily in his latest works and set to music.”
with Vasks’s music, the program also features Arvo Pärt’s Fratres for woodwind octet and percussion (1977); Toru Takemitsu’s How Slow the Wind for orchestra (1991);
Alan Hovhaness’s Khrimian Hairing for
trumpet and strings (1944); Charles Ives’s The
Unanswered Question for trumpet, woodwinds and strings (1906); and J.S.
Bach’s Solo Cello Suite No. 1, first
movement (1720). The pieces will be
performed continuously, with video images interwoven, on a stage whose lighting
design will enhance the musicians’ presence.
there have been many works which combine music and projected imagery, they have
largely been devoted to a single piece or composer, or a specially-commissioned
composition. In the Grace of the World creates a journey of eight musical works
braided with imagery to evoke a single theme.
“This project both fits us and stretches us,” says Elizabeth
Ostrow. “The ease of movement throughout
the musical repertoire is integral to who St. Luke’s is, and this piece, which
combines solo, chamber, and orchestral repertoire in the same program, allows a
few of our many terrific musicians to be featured as soloists. It also
stretches everyone with the integration of staging and lighting. There is real
excitement among the musicians about creating such works ourselves.”
this work, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s is reaching a milestone in its creative
evolution. “In the Grace of the World speaks to both our strengths and our
needs,” said OSL President and Executive Director Marianne Lockwood. “It is the fruition of a long-standing desire
to help evolve the notion of concert presentation, in our own way. The close artistic exchange of ideas between
our administration and musicians, the extraordinary flexibility, virtuosity,
and adventurousness of those musicians, and the vision and commitment of Liz
and Annie have resulted in something that is very much a product of the St.
Luke’s culture of collaboration.”
event is being presented as part of Peak Performances @ Montclair’s Acts of
Engagement that take place in The Alexander Kasser Theater on the campus of
Montclair State University. The program is critically acclaimed and is noted
for producing and presenting world-class artists from a variety of disciplines.
The concert will be preceded by a talk with composer Pēteris Vasks led by
midday host of 96.3 FM WQXR, Annie Bergen, at 6:45 PM in University Hall on the
campus of Montclair State University, which is free to ticketholders.
are $15. Montclair State University will
provide a $5 round-trip shuttle bus for ticketholders (limited availability)
from Manhattan to the theater. For
tickets and further information, call 973-655-5112 or visit www.peakperfs.org.
program is made possible in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon
The Genesis of a New Work
versatility of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s – which combines a high-profile
series at Carnegie Hall, chamber music series at four museums, collaborations
with such major music organizations such as Carnegie Hall, Collegiate Chorale,
and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and a thriving arts education program –
makes it particularly well-equipped to address the general desire in the
orchestra field to push the standard outlines of classical concert
presentation. Participation in the
Mellon Forum “Innovation Circle” (part of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s
Orchestra Program), whose goal was to challenge participating orchestras to
“build artistic capacity,” coincided with discussions that the OSL had been
having about creating a new kind of context for a concert, taking advantage of
the creative potential and the excellent orchestral, chamber, and solo
capabilities of its musicians.
Ostrow found that in further talks with concert presenters at universities and
potential creative partners outside the field of music, both her own and their
ideas coalesced around the theme of spirituality in the 21st
century. The project began to take shape
in formative talks with Jed Wheeler, Executive Director, Arts and Cultural
Programming at Montclair State University.
When Ostrow met with creative partner Annie Loui, their ideas
crystallized around a program of music and imagery in which each element would
not be dominated by the other but would, in Ostrow’s words, “have its own
listening to much music, Ostrow found Pēteris Vasks. With his work as the core of the piece, the
search then radiated out to include a variety of music spanning the 20th
century, along with the final selection of Bach. “The intensity and musical flow of Vasks’s
music, and the meaning it conveys, is the overarching element that grounds In the Grace of the World,” says
Ostrow. “As Annie Loui began to
conceptualize the visuals for the project, we discovered how much the Vasks and
water imagery seemed meant for each other.”
The two also found common ground in the piece’s inspiration; according
to Ostrow, “in an early meeting in my office, we were talking about the place
of spirituality in the piece and how the evening should end, and Annie pointed
to a copy of Wendell Berry’s poem ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ that I had on my
wall – it perfectly articulated the arc of our theme. There has been a definite
sense of purpose to this project, and the synergies have come together in an
Lockwood and Elizabeth Ostrow foresee a potential life for In the Grace of the World that could end up serving OSL in more
ways than one – both artistically and financially. The orchestra is in early discussions to take
the work on tour, and plans to make it available for licensing to other
orchestras. It is potentially the first
of a series of such projects for St. Luke’s.
According to Ostrow, “We have been talking with the musicians about
developing a piece involving chamber music, animation, and film footage of the
Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
Annie Loui, Co-Creator
Loui creates intermedia performance and works as a choreographer and
director. She trained with dancer
Carolyn Carlson at the Paris Opera and studied in France with Etienne Decroux,
Ella Jarosivitcz, and Jerzy Grotowski. Original performances have been seen in
France and Germany, and in the U.S. at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, among
other venues. Favorite intermedia
projects include her dance/animation performance Sympathetic Magic, shown at festivals in New Zealand and Wales; her
dance/theater/animation work Alice’s
Adventures, performed at the Monaco Danses Dance Forum; and the
collaborative intermedia creation with neurobiologist James Fallon, Reading Frankenstein, premiered at the Beall Center for Art and
Technology. Favorite directing projects
include the world premiere of the Chuck Mee/Nathan Birnbaum play/opera War to End War, and the premiere of
David Grae’s Moose Mating at H.E.R.E.
in New York City, which was singled out in “Best Picks of the Year” in
Backstage. Formerly the resident
choreographer for the American Repertory Theater (ART), where she worked with
directors Robert Wilson, André Serban, and David Wheeler, her theater
choreography has also been seen off-Broadway at Signature Theater, and
regionally at Trinity Repertory Theater and South Coast Repertory
(California). She is a professor at the
University of California, Irvine, teaching movement for the M.F.A. actor
Elizabeth Ostrow, Co-Creator
Vice President, Artistic Planning, of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Elizabeth
Ostrow began with the orchestra as artistic advisor in 1996, becoming director
of artistic planning several years later.
Prior to coming to St. Luke’s she served as artistic administrator for
the New York Philharmonic and vice president of artists and repertoire with
both the Angel/EMI recording label and New World Records. As an independent record producer, she has
made over 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award-winning discs, for labels
including Sony, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, Telarc, and Harmonia Mundi. She produced five discs with the Emerson
String Quartet, and has recorded with André Previn, Sarah Chang, Plácido
Domingo, Peter Serkin, Zubin Mehta and the New York Philharmonic, Riccardo Muti
and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, among
others. Her audio credits include
several television operas for Great
Performances (PBS), among them John Adams’ Nixon in China (world premiere), and the Emmy Award winning program
Pavarotti and the Italian Tenor.
Pēteris Vasks, Composer
Pēteris Vasks was born in Aizpute (Latvia) in 1946. He attended the Riga Music Academy and the Lithuanian Music Academy in Vilnius where he studied double-bass with Vitautas Sereika until 1970. From 1973 to 1978 he studied composition with Valenzius Utkin at the Latvian Academy of Music in Riga. From 1963 to 1974 Vasks was member of various symphony and chamber orchestras such as the Lithuanian Philharmonic Orchestra (1966-69), the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (1969-70) and the orchestra of the Latvian Radio and Television (1971-74).
Vasks has included archaic folkloric elements of Latvian music in his compositions. Most of his works have programmatic titles which refer to natural occurrences. But what really matters to Vasks is not a poetic praise of nature or a landscape description as aesthetic ideal. The mutual relation between nature and man, the beauty of life and the threatening ecological and moral destruction of these values - these are the subjects that Vasks has taken up primarily in his latest works and set to music. In 1996 he was appointed main composer of the Stockholm Festival of New Music. In 1998 he was awarded the Latvian Music Prize for his violin concerto Distant Light. Since 1994 Pēteris Vasks has been an honorary member of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. In 2001 he was invited to become a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music founded by King Gustav III in Stockholm in 1771. Pēteris Vasks lives in Riga.
Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz, Lighting Designer
Lonnie Alcaraz has designed at various regional theater houses, such as Berkeley Repertory, The Arena Stage in Washington, DC, South Coast Repertory and Laguna Playhouse in southern California, Sierra Repertory, the Utah Shakespearean Festival, and the Alabama Shakespearean Festival. Select design credits include Culture Clash’s The Birds at both South Coast Repertory and Berkeley Repertory, along with their national touring show, Radio Mambo. Collaborative intermedia work with director Annie Loui includes Reading Frankenstein at the Beall Center for Art and Technology and Love for Three Oranges for the University of California, Irvine. Recent productions with The Cornerstone Theater Company include Lethe, Farewell to Manzanar, Waking Up in Lost Hills, and I Ask You, Ladies and Gentlemen. Lonnie Alcaraz is currently the resident designer for Ballet Repertory Theatre, and is an associate professor in the drama department of the University of California, Irvine.
Wes Skiles, Nature Cinematographer and Underwater Photographer
With over 100 specialty films on cave diving exploration, whales, white sharks, bird migration, alligators and crocodiles to his credit, Wes Skiles is widely known for his unique balance of diving experience and filming skills. Working with Bill Kurtis, Wes produced a series of award-winning episodes of the documentary series The New Explorers. A science exploration film, Most Dangerous Science, was awarded five first-place awards of filming excellence. In 1998 he worked as director and cameraman for the IMAX film Journey into Amazing Caves. Since 2000, his numerous projects with National Geographic have included a film Ice Island, which won “Best Exploration Film” in the Explorers Club annual film festival. Recently, Skiles has produced the popular PBS series titled Water’s Journey that focuses on teaching viewers about the intricate and important nature of water on our planet. His company, Karst Productions, specializes in filming and programming captured exclusively in hi-definition TV. He resides in High Springs, Florida, with his wife, Terri, and two children, Nathan and Tessa.
Scott Snibbe, Electronic Media Artist
Scott Snibbe creates electronic media installations that directly engage the body of the viewer in a reactive system. His works are designed to have specific social effects: to create a sense of interdependence, to promote friendly interaction among strangers, and to increase viewers’ concentration. Snibbe’s work has been shown internationally at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Artport, Eyebeam, and The Kitchen (New York); the InterCommunications Center (Tokyo); Ars Electronica (Austria); and The Institute of Contemporary Art (London). Snibbe was born in 1969 in New York City. He holds bachelor’s degrees in computer science and fine art, and a master’s in computer science from Brown University. Snibbe studied experimental animation at the Rhode Island School of Design and his films have been widely shown internationally. He has taught media art and experimental film at Brown University, San Francisco Art Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, and University of California, Berkeley. Snibbe has held research positions at Adobe Systems and Interval Research.
Chris Welsby, Film/Video/New Media Artist
Welsby has been making and exhibiting work since 1969. His films and film/video
installations have been exhibited internationally, at major galleries such as
the Tate and Hayward galleries in London, the Musée du Louvre and the Centre
Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Carnegie
Institute in Pittsburgh, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Having
studied at the Slade School of Art, the Chelsea School of Art, and the Central
School of Art, all in London, he is currently professor of fine art at the
School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
In his words, "In my single screen films and single channel videos the mechanics of film and video interact with the landscape in such a way that elemental processes—such as changes in light, the rise and fall of the tide or changes in wind direction—are given the space and time to participate in the process of representation. … The process of re-presenting the landscape in either the single screen works or the installations is not seen to be separate from nature or in any way objective, but is viewed instead, as part of a more symbiotic model in which technology and nature are both viewed as interrelated parts of a larger gestalt."
Xian Zhang, Conductor
Xian Zhang was named the first Arturo Toscanini Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic in February 2007. She has been Associate Conductor of the New York Philharmonic since 2005, having served as Assistant Conductor the preceding year. She made her Philharmonic debut leading a Young People’s Concert on February 7, 2004, and since has led numerous concerts with the Orchestra, including the 2006 annual free Memorial Day Concert at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, and a performance of Prokofiev’s complete score for Eisenstein’s film, Alexander Nevsky, which was screened simultaneously.
Ms. Zhang, who was a co-winner of the Maazel-Vilar Conductors’ Competition, made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in summer 2006; future North American engagements include appearances in Detroit, Toronto, Seattle, and with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Following her debut with the London Symphony Orchestra in May 2005, she was re-engaged for 2006 and 2008. Born in Dandong, China, Ms. Zhang made her professional conducting debut at the age of 20 leading Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at the Central Opera House in Beijing. She trained at Beijing’s Central Conservatory, earning both her bachelor and master’s degrees, and served one year on its conducting faculty before moving to the U.S. in 1998.
ORCHESTRA OF ST. LUKE’S
2007-08 season marks the 33rd year of America’s foremost chamber orchestra, the
Orchestra of St. Luke’s. This unique
musical organization began as a chamber ensemble in the Church of St. Luke in
the Fields in New York’s Greenwich Village, and comprises the Orchestra of St.
Luke’s, the St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble, and the St. Luke’s Arts Education
Program. St. Luke’s currently performs
approximately 100 orchestral, chamber, and educational concerts throughout New
York each year, all showcasing the hallmark collaborative spirit that has
garnered consistent critical acclaim for vibrant music-making of the highest
at the Caramoor International Music Festival in the summer of 1979, the
Orchestra evolved from the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble, with Ensemble members
forming the Orchestra's artistic core as principal players. In addition to being presented by Carnegie
Hall in an annual series in the Isaac Stern Auditorium, the Orchestra of St.
Luke’s continues a more-than-20-year collaborative relationship with Carnegie
Hall that currently includes participation in such Carnegie events as the
Choral Workshop, Family Concerts, concert presentations of musical theater,
including the recent presentation, recording, and telecast of Rodgers and
Hammerstein’s South Pacific, and
others. The Orchestra is also engaged
throughout the year in a number of artistic collaborations that have recently
included the U.S. premiere of Paul McCartney’s Ecce Cor Meum at Carnegie Hall, and the season-opening gala of the
Paul Taylor Dance Company. The Orchestra
of St. Luke’s serves each summer as the orchestra-in-residence at the Caramoor
chamber music, St. Luke’s performs three concert series annually: a series in Gilder Lehrman Hall in the
newly-renovated Morgan Library & Museum; a series at the Brooklyn Museum;
and Second Helpings, a contemporary
music series taking place both at the Chelsea Art Museum and at Dia:Beacon in
upstate New York. The St. Luke’s Arts Education Program comprises free
education performances and year-long in-school residencies supported by
professional development for teachers and standards-based curriculum materials. Eighteen thousand New York City school
children and their teachers are served by the program annually.
October 6, 2007, at 8:00 PM
The Alexander Kasser Theater
Montclair State University
Montclair, New Jersey
Peak Performances @ Montclair Presents:
ORCHESTRA OF ST. LUKE’S
Xian Zhang, Conductor
In the Grace of the World – World Premiere
multimedia work produced by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s featuring the music of
Pēteris Vasks, Arvo Pärt, Toru Takemitsu, Alan Hovhaness, Charles Ives, and
Conceived and Created by Elizabeth Ostrow and Annie Loui
Director: Annie Loui
Lighting Designer: Lonnie Rafael Alcaraz
Nature Cinematographer and Underwater Photographer: Wes Skiles
Electronic Media Artist: Scott Snibbe
Film/Video/New Media Artist: Chris Welsby
Animation and Compositing: Katherine Trimble
Video Production Manager, Editor, Digital Compositing: Noah Cunningham
Tickets are $15. Montclair State University will provide a $5 round-trip shuttle bus for ticketholders (limited availability) from Manhattan to the theater. For tickets and further information, call 973-655-5112 or visit www.peakperfs.org.
Released: August 3, 2007