Last month the Wichita Symphony Orchestra performed Vivaldi's Four Seasons with internationally acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton Pine and with a unique visual accompaniment: the stunning photographs of Kansas-based artist, Larry Schwarm. 350 of Schwarm's photographs, images of Kansas in winter, spring, summer, and fall, were projected above the orchestra playing the Vivaldi score.
Read further details below from The Wichita Eagle (January 19, 2017) article by David Burke.
"Wichita Symphony Gives ‘Four Seasons’ a Kansas Touch"
Acclaimed violinist Rachel Barton Pine says there’s “not a season that goes by” that she hasn’t performed Vivaldi’s classic “The Four Seasons.”
But her two performances of that work this weekend will include accompaniment she’s never shared before: a photographic display illustrating “The Four Seasons of Kansas.”
“I’m really interested in seeing it. It’s a creative idea,” Pine said from her Chicago office. “It’s a way to introduce people to the meaning of the music.”
The images of the state in winter, spring, summer and fall are all from Kansas photographer Larry Schwarm, who contributed about 350 photos, which will be projected above the orchestra playing at Century II, to illustrate the score.
Schwarm said about half the photos came from his collection from the past 40 years, and the rest were taken in the 12 months since symphony officials asked whether he’d be interested in a musical/photo collaboration.
A professor of photography at Wichita State University since 2013, Schwarm said he approached the “Four Seasons” project – in which images would be projected for just a few seconds – differently than he would a gallery show or a published compilation.
“I wanted something with a strong visual impact that says what it is: ‘This is spring,’ ‘This is summer,’ ” he said. “I tended to go for more dramatic and – I hate to use the word ‘pretty’ – but pretty pictures.
“My personal work tends to be more subtle and more abstract,” he added.
Growing up on a farm outside Greensburg, Schwarm said, he has always appreciated landscape photography.
“Some of these things I photograph constantly, I just never show them,” he said. “I feel like my work is very land-based, agricultural-based.”
Wichita Symphony music director and conductor Daniel Hege said the mix of Schwarm’s photography and Vivaldi’s score is an ideal marriage.
“We’re looking for visuals to go along with what we’re playing, but we don’t want to put just anything up,” he said. “We want to do something that’s really relevant, where each art form can aid the other.”
Once Hege saw Schwarm’s photos, Hege knew they were the ideal companion.
“We were just blown away at the incredibly high level of photos we saw. It was almost mind-boggling,” Hege said.
“I had seen a lot of Kansas, but I had not seen it in this kind of grandeur and beauty,” he added.
“The Four Seasons,” believed to have been written in 1723 by Vivaldi, is accompanied by poetry that also will be presented, Hege said.
Pine said she will also give a bit of explanation to each of the quadrants the work represents.
“No matter how many times you’ve heard them, you probably don’t know every little bit of the storyline as it goes along,” she said.
Pine said that her mission as a performer, especially with “Four Seasons,” is to present Vivaldi’s intentions to the audience and help illustrate the music with her violin, whether it be birds flying, water running or horses galloping.
“There’s very little repertoire that we regularly play that is quite as movie soundtrack-ish,” Pine said of the work.
The 42-year-old Pine, who has been in the national spotlight since 1981, said she is planning on recording “Four Seasons” for the first time in about four years. With nearly 30 albums to her credit, Pine said she has mapped out plans for 10 releases over the next five years.
Among Pine’s credits is “Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries” in 1997 with the Encore Chamber Orchestra, directed by Hege.
Pine, who last performed in Wichita in 2003, says she’s intrigued by the mix of Vivaldi and visuals.
“If it can make the audience engaged and bring new people into the hall, they can love what they’ve heard and come back,” she said.