At UCLA, debating classical music and the visual element

Posted on: November 10, 2015

“How can the visual artist confront classical music?” writes Mark Swed in Tuesday’s (11/10) Los Angeles Times. “A widely shared worry is that modern digital culture causes the visual element to be predominant. … UCLA spent the weekend mulling over all this with ‘Beyond Music: Composition + Performance in the Age of Augmented Reality.’ The centerpieces were a pair of concerts in Schoenberg Hall, one of music by the renowned Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, and the other by her husband, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, a French composer and media artist…. In between were a pair of concerts for which outsiders … provided new visual context for mostly older music.” The scores were performed by solo instrumentalists or electronics. “A four-hour symposium put on by the UCLA Department of Design and Media Arts offered rationale and perspective. There were essentially four ways suggested for a visual artist to confront classical music, beginning with Barrière’s interactive one. Another is to transform the space in which the music is performed [which is] what Refik Anadol did with an all-night performance of Erik Satie’s ‘Vexations.’ … The real question was what kind of information is most helpful to an audience. Saariaho creates a miraculous sense of suspended animation through her music all by itself.”

Posted November 10, 2015