Rite of Spring Stravinsky

This year marks the centennial of the world premiere of the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky. Right around the time that Stravinsky composed this controversial piece, non-representational or abstract art was born as well. 1913 was an exciting year of innovation. To celebrate this spirit of composing, orchestras and dance companies all over the globe have put this piece on their program this year. I was able to attend such a performance by the Berkshire Symphony and the dance department at Williams College in March 2013. For the last three decades I have listened to music with my eyes closed and seen the music play out in colors and moving forms in front of my inner eye. Many of my paintings have been renderings of these visual/musical experiences. Since I grew up with a lot of music and playing the violin extensively throughout my teenage years, I must have built a foundation for this kind of synesthesia. For this particular performance I decided to not just listen with my eyes closed, but to draw at the same time, following the movements of the music. It was an exhilarating experience. I heard so much more. All my senses were on high alert. The music seemed so much more visceral and immediate. A few months later, I traced the enlarged sketches onto canvases. I could not wait to put color into and over the lines. The paintings should be free and dance like, reaching into an empty space around them, just like a dancer would sculpt the space and air with the movements of her body. The colors needed to express the vernal emerging energies of spring, the wistful lamentation of the bassoon drifting over the early morning mist as if calling to the dancers, above an unrelenting, ominously pounding pulse of imminent danger and impending death. Terra verte, sap green, gray, a cool yellow, cool blue, earth tones and black started to get in line, forming a composition. Red represented the passion, the tribal energy of the dance, the danger, the fast pace of the pounding rhythms. As the project progressed, I wanted to branch out into other color combinations and did not want to be confined to just the colors that seemed to represent the dance. I let the lines speak for themselves and tried to find colors that seemed to go best with the rhythms and movements of the lines. One last painting that expresses the final frenzied dance of the victim and her death is still outstanding. By the time the performance had progressed that far I was not sketching anymore and I still have to create that ultimate piece to round off the cycle.