The city symphony was desperate to revitalize an aging subscriber base with performance events that would engage a younger audience. The artistic director had heard of a concert that combined “animated video” performed with live orchestra. They wanted an original “animated video’ to be performed live and in sync with the symphony’s performance of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila Symphonie. This symphony is 75 minutes in length and regarded as one of the most challenging orchestral works to perform; it is also, for many audience members, one of the most difficult to listen to.
The composer had synesthesia—he saw visions with music. In its fullest expression, it seemed fitting that his work would be experienced both visually and aurally. However, the city’s grand symphony hall, restored to its 1915 vaudevillian rococo splendor, presented considerable challenges to large-scale projection.
It seemed that the solution was to break away from the rectangular screen and immerse the audience in a sustained and choreographed display that partnered with the space. For visual inspiration, the designer looked at evocative avant-garde films and abstract visual music. The animations were composited on black backgrounds so they feathered into the architecture. As a result, the room, with its elaborate flourishes, came and went—revealed then gone—as the images moved and enveloped. Quiet, tender at times, creepy, odd then swelling to glorious crescendo.
Rose Bond (director, producer, lead animator), Zak Margolis (composite artist, lead animator), Steve Farris Rochelle (programming, tech design)