Excitement commenced as I clicked on a link to a concert page. A Philip Glass premiere, a composer who is one of my favorites. But as I further delved into the details of the concert I realized that this was going to be a concert unlike any other. I had no idea what a unique and exhilarating experience it would turn out to be.
The concert was entitled “Portals: A Multi-Media Exploration of Longing in the Digital Age”, and combined music, film, dance, and poetry. The program opened with the words of Leonard Cohen, but on a screen, as though signing onto a video call. The video placed the audience in an intimate setting with the actor, who appeared to be in the privacy of his home. As the concert unfolded, the violinist, Tim Fain, walked on stage. Behind him the film crackled to life presenting Nicholas Britell, the pianist for the concert. And this was how all of the pieces of the evening would be performed; a collaboration of a live soloist with filmed accompaniment. While at times the film presented the audience with the daily grind of preparing for a performance or showing the performers relaxing in their homes, it also paired music with visual movement.
It was fascinating to realize how much emotion was emerging out of the screen. Although the film was seemingly in a different world, it connected the audience to the performers on a personal level. The Partita for Solo Violin by Philip Glass combined beautiful poetry and dance with the sounds of a live violin. The movements of the dancers mimicked the emotions that Fain created through Glass’ music.
As I looked back onto the concert I found it remarkable that we usually view music and film in the opposite way. When viewing a film, the scenes and the actions that are in front of us take precedence and although we are aware there is music playing, it is not at the forefront of our minds. But if we take a minute to listen, we would realize the emotions that we are feeling wouldn’t be the same without the music that is playing in the background.
Amanda Prakopcy teaches piano at Hunterdon Academy of the Arts.