Campus & Community

Lamont students to perform with international choreographer in ‘The Oracle’

Russian composer Igor Stravinsky debuted his most famous ballet, “The Rite of Spring,” 100 years ago in Paris. In honor of the anniversary, the Newman Center Presents series will host a special performance Feb. 13 featuring the Lamont Symphony Orchestra and work by Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard.

Titled “The Oracle,” the concert incorporates music and dance with video art. The core of the performance is Stravinsky’s score to “The Rite of Spring,” which will be played by the Lamont Symphony Orchestra during the second half of the performance. The student orchestra, made up of undergraduate and graduate students, also will open the show, playing American composer Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring Suite.”

“‘The Rite of Spring’ has been called the most important piece of music of the entire 20th century,” says Lawrence Golan, conductor of the Lamont Symphony Orchestra. “The extremely intricate and complex rhythms absolutely revolutionized the way music was written. In ‘Appalachian Spring,’ Aaron Copland incorporated some of the rhythms that Stravinsky used, but in a distinctly ‘American’ and ‘folksy’ way.”

Tankard, known for her choreography of the opening ceremony for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, arranged “The Oracle” with Stravinsky’s original 1913 choreography in mind. Paul White, an Australian dancer, will be the only dancer performing throughout the show.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to do a really important piece in the classical repertoire and to have this great learning opportunity to perform it with live dance,” says Newman Center Executive Director Steve Seifert, who programs the Newman Center Presents series.

The performance will be the only one in the United States featuring live music. All other shows utilize recordings, making this a unique experience for students and the Newman Center.

“It adds an extra layer of complexity,” Seifert says. “They have to make it work with the video and the choreography, which is already all timed out. It’s a very challenging piece of music, and the rhythms in particular are very difficult.”

Golan is excited at the opportunity, as he has wanted the orchestra to perform ‘Rite of Spring’ for some time.

“Just the opportunity for our orchestral students to play these two pieces alone is an extremely rare and auspicious one,” he says. “To have the additional opportunity to perform ‘The Rite’ with this wonderful dance company from Australia makes it even more special.”

The Lamont School of Music is dedicating the concert to the late Bob Mesko, former director of development in the Office of University Advancement, who worked closely with the Newman Center and Lamont.

Tickets — $18, $5 for students — are available at the Newman Center box office or online at newmantix.com. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

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