Stravinsky’s ground-breaking ballet Rite of Spring is to receive a 21st-century makeover fusing live orchestral performance and contemporary dance with 3D digital technology for two performances at Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Thursday 21 April 2011.
With the aid of 3D glasses and real time technology, the movements of a solo dancer – accompanied by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ilan Volkov – will be transformed into an extraordinary audience experience. Created by the media artist Klaus Obermaier, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 3D is one of the most ambitious events to take place in Symphony Hall since the world class auditorium opened in 1991.
A bespoke interactive website has been created offering an insight into the concept and production, videos, behind the scenes feeds, and an interactive wRite feature allowing visitors to experience a sense of the live experience. In this production, Igor Stravinsky’s anarchic use of primitive rhythms and chords as a metaphor for social breakdown in 1913 is updated for the 21st century, now illustrating the blurred distinction between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ which has infiltrated many areas of our lives.
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 3D was created by Obermaier and members of the acclaimed Ars Electronica Futurelab team, whose mission is to redefine man’s relationship with computers – particularly in the arts, and enjoyed critical acclaim at the 2007 world premiere in Brucknerhaus, Linz in Austria.
Paul Keene, Director of Programming at Town Hall and Symphony Hall, explains, “Klaus Obermaier’s work has created a unified aesthetic that matches the spirit of Stravinsky’s original in its combination of primitivism and sophistication. It’s nearly 100 years since Stravinsky changed the way we thought about music. On 21st April, Klaus Obermaier, Julia Mach and the CBSO will change the way we think about dance. We hope there won’t be riot like there was in 1913, but we can certainly guarantee a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Dance, music and 3D technology
Over 2,200 pairs of 3D glasses will help to immerse audience members in the live experience and parts of the production will appear to take place no further away than from the tip of their nose.
Nine stereoscopic cameras – which simulate human binocular vision – will capture the on-stage movements of acclaimed contemporary dancer Julia Mach, feeding into a complex computer system. This system will in turn generate and project 3D digital imagery on to a giant silver screen positioned above the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
The orchestra’s sounds will be relayed into the computer by microphones on the players’ instruments, helping to influence the form, movement and complexity of the 3D projections, using the human body and movements of Mach as a connection between reality and ‘virtuality’.
Fans of contemporary culture, classical music, dance and digital technology devotees can learn more about Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 3D online at www.riteofspring3d.thsh.co.uk – a bespoke home for information and interactivity, produced by West Midlands agency Cogent Elliott for Town Hall and Symphony Hall.
In addition to details on the production and delivery team, a behind the scenes feed will include regular updates, posts, videos, images, audio and links sharing the passion, information, thought, technology, ideas and innovation enabling such a spectacular production to take place.
An interactive application called wRite, which interweaves music from the score with visuals from the 21st century production, allows visitors to create their own interactive graphics to accompany Stravinsky’s music.
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 3D is the fourth such major audio-visual project to be presented in Symphony Hall during the 2010/2011 Birmingham International Concert Season.
Previous events include the UK premiere of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde featuring visuals by renowned artist Bill Viola, the European premiere of The Planets – An HD Odyssey, which paired a performance of Holst’s famous suite with state-of-the-art NASA imagery, and a concert featuring In Seven Days by Thomas Adès and filmmaker Tal Rosner.
Adrian Quin, Executive Director of Williams de Broë, who sponsor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring 3D said, “Williams de Broë have enjoyed working with Town Hall and Symphony Hall over the last few years and we are delighted to be sponsoring these two unique performances and continuing our relationship with the organisation”.