Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Perceiving the Arts
Recently, at a reinstillation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's European paintings collection, works of Orlande de Lassus, Couperin, and Monteverdi could be heard amongst attendees while strolling from painting to painting. The music not only offered an evening of entertainment, itself, but added to the cultural worldview that existed when many of the paintings were created.
In the words of Zachary Woolfe, New York Times music critic, "These works [of Dario Castello, Giovanni Battista Fontana and Johann Kaspar Kerll] turn on a dime: slow lines of aching lyricism tumble into joyous movement. I was facing Luca Giordano's "Annunciation" as I listened, and I’d rarely seen that same mixture of lyricism and movement more clearly."
I'll be honest, after reading the NYT article, I responded somewhat negatively: Won't music take away from the art, itself? People will remember a painting based off of what they hear, rather than what they see, won't they? Doesn't this defeat the purpose of visual art? However, after consideration, I do believe, as Woolfe pointed out, that fully realizing one aspect of a work can be aided by another work, or even another art form. This power of association is how the human brain seems to work, anyway.
The Met's example of mixing different art forms to more successfully perceive a work of art is something that is not foreign to Longy students. In the Teaching Artist's Program, our primary goal is to understand what an "artistic experience" is composed of and how we, as musicians, can allow non-musicians to experience our art more fully. During the semester, we dissect a work of art in order to see the individual elements that create the whole. In doing so, we are able to interpret the art more completely and personally -- something that Metropolitan Museum attendees seemed to experience. By the end of the semester, each of us designs our own curriculum meant to engage members of the Cambridge/Boston community in an artistic experience. It is with this cumulative project that we seek to further our art form and inspire others to enjoy classical music just as much as we do.