Fun Friday: Let the Music Move You!

May 25, 2012

The concert-going experience is pretty predictable. Often beautiful, and sometimes breath-taking – but predictable. You sit and watch while the orchestra sits and reads and plays. It’s an aural experience.

And yet the students at the University of Maryland are striving to make the classical music concert experience much more.

Their concerts feature everything from theatrical lighting design, to narrations read by orchestra members, to choreographed movement, as seen in this performance of Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun”, choreographed by Liz Lerman.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=782GpSv9pTM[/youtube]

What I find fascinating is that the opposite has been happening in the theatrical world for some time now. A number of musicals have been staged with actors who are also musicians – providing their own accompaniment on stage as part of the production. Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard, Finn’s A New Brain, Herman’s Mack and Mabel, and Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, Company and Sweeney Todd have all been staged with the actor-musician concept. Here’s the cast of the 2006 Tony Award-winning Revival of Company performing “Side by Side”, directed by John Doyle.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDYvGjZ7Pj8[/youtube]

While the U of M orchestra has taken “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” – an abstract piece – and has added a layer of theatricality through movement, Doyle has taken a theatrical piece and, by putting instruments in the hands of his actors, has moved it towards the abstract by pushing the “suspension of disbelief” line.

Does the added dimension of movement in a classical work and instruments on a theatrical stage add to or detract from your enjoyment of the work?
Should orchestral musicians stay in their chairs and should theatre musicians stay in the pit? Leave us a comment with your thoughts on the matter!

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