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This preview has been provided by the UNC School of the Arts.
The UNCSA Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday and Sunday, March 18 and 19, will offer a new experience for local concert-goers, thanks to a collaboration called ConcertArt. Nic Muni, artistic director of UNCSA's Fletcher Opera Institute, will create an abstract lighting design to accompany the orchestra's performance of Dvořák's Symphony No. 8.
Also on the program are Ernest Bloch's Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque for Violoncello and Orchestra, featuring cellist Eli Kaynor, winner of the Fall Concerto Competition, and the Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, conducted by first-year graduate conducting student Daniel Bukin. UNCSA Symphony Music Director Christopher James Lees conducts the works by Dvořák and Bloch.
The concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 19, in Freedman Theatre of the Alex Ewing Performance Place on the campus at 1533 South Main St. Tickets are $18 regular and $15 students with valid ID, and are available at www.uncsa.edu/performances, or by calling the box office at 336-721-1945.
"We are very excited about bringing a fully immersive concert experience to UNCSA audiences," Lees said of ConcertArt. "We live in a wildly visual culture, and hearing a substantial musical event is made even more meaningful with added visual complements available through truly artistic lighting."
Muni said symphonies have for a long time used visuals to enhance concerts, but often the imagery actually distracts the audience from listening to the music. "Narrative-oriented content such as pictures, artwork and video images relegates the music to a function of background music," he said.
ConcertArt, Muni explained, uses visual aspects of a concert to focus the audience on listening more keenly to the music. It uses spatial design to focus the space by simplifying the environment, creating a neutral surround so the orchestra itself is featured. Then lighting is used, without images, to enhance the mood and development of the music.
"Through the use of color, intensity, angle and the shifting of these elements, we hope to guide the listener to hear the music more keenly, to experience the music by guiding the eye - but not engaging the eye," Muni said.
Lees said the repertoire is worthy of totally enveloping the audience. "The music alone is spectacular, and I know our talented students will perform brilliantly," he said. "To bring the audience this exciting and experimental experience will be a treat for both performers and listeners alike."
The ConcertArt theory has been on Muni's mind for many years. "I have witnessed the slow decline in attendance at symphony work over the past decades, which I find distressing," he said. "So, I am thrilled to finally be able to test this theory, with support of a faculty leadership grant that Chris Lees was awarded from UNCSA's Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts," he said.
The grants provide extra ordinary opportunities for faculty to produce creative ideas, analysis, strategies and initiatives for further study or implementation; to explore new approaches to creative learning challenges; to impact student learning outcomes; to foster their capacity to lead; and to engage diverse stakeholders.
Kaynor, of Melrose, Massachusetts, received a Master of Music from UNCSA in May 2016, and is working toward a Professional Artist Certificate under the mentorship of Brooks Whitehouse, while auditioning for doctoral programs.
He was a member of the elite Chancellor's String Quartet, and is a member of the Winston-Salem Symphony.
Kaynor has a bachelor's degree from Chapman University as both a cello performance major in the Conservatory of Music and a Presidential Scholar in the University Honors Program. While at Chapman he freelanced throughout the greater Los Angeles area, frequently performing as both a soloist and chamber musician and maintaining a full teaching studio of his own in Orange County.
From Lewisville, Bukin is studying with Lees to pursue a Master of Music in orchestral conducting. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in music performance from Appalachian State University, and teaches private lessons in piano, music theory, composition and violin.
The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is America's first state-supported arts school, a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in dance, design and production, drama, filmmaking, and music. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem ("The City of Arts and Innovation") in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system when it was formed in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.