Press Room

VisionIntoArt (VIA) & Beth Morrison Projects (BMP) Present Labyrinth Live at Boston’s Gardner Museum (Feb 4)

VisionIntoArt (VIA) scored a success with the release of Labyrinth on VIA Records last year, when WQXR selected it as “Album of the Week,” calling the 70-minute work “rhapsodic …, about as trippy and psychedelic an experience as you can hope for.” Comprising two conjoined installation concertos for string soloist and electronics, the collaborative, interdisciplinary piece combines the music of VIA founder Paola Prestini – named one of the “Top 100 composers in the World under 40” (NPR) – with projections by Brad Peterson, visuals by Erika Harrsch and Carmen Kordas, stage direction by Michael McQuilken, and groundbreaking, unprecedented use of innovative LED technology and the interactive, bluetooth-sensored K-Bow. Now the new year brings an opportunity to experience Labyrinth in live performance featuring violinist Tim Fain and cellist Maya Beiser at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Feb 4). Click here to see a video trailer for Labyrinth.

Hailed as “an inventive composer whose style mixes the ancient and the up-to-date, the folk inspired and the artfully polished” (New York Times), Paola Prestini took inspiration for Labyrinth from Octavio Paz’s essay The Labyrinth of Solitude. It is to this existential classic that the title of her violin concerto – Part One, House of Solitude – alludes, while her cello concerto – Part Two, Room No. 35 – draws on Anaïs Nin’s surrealist novella House of Incest, which traces a woman’s path towards self-discovery. As Prestini explains,

“It’s a unique project for me. The idea is that it’s a labyrinth of the mind, and it’s a labyrinth of the heart. My compositional intention was to create a multimedia work that had operatic dimensions for abstract voices, while technically achieving a deeper level of integration between live technology and my compositional language. It’s an exciting kind of pinnacle in terms of the exploration between visual arts technology and music.”

In Part One, House of Solitude, Prestini’s music complements video projections by Carmen Kordas, whose credits include Carnegie Hall and the Whitney Museum. Representing a journey through the labyrinth of the mind, Kordas’s three-dimensional holograms explore solitude, communication, and the ultimate search for one’s self, all from the viewpoint of the concerto’s soloist. American violinist Tim Fain undertakes this solo role, performing with a K-Bow, the invention of famed instrument designer Keith McMillen. Using Bluetooth technology to transmit detailed real-time information, the K-Bow enables Fain’s sounds to interact with the movement and light of Kordas’s holographic visuals.

Where House of Solitude takes its male protagonist on a journey through the labyrinth of the mind, Part Two, Room No. 35 – following Nin’s novella – is conceived from a woman’s vantage point, and maps the labyrinth of her heart. To realize this vision, Prestini assembled a stellar team of collaborators. The concerto’s staging is by director Michael McQuilken, a musician and director whose portfolio includes music videos for Amanda Palmer, with pulsing video landscapes from Mexican-born visual designer Erika Harrsch. Also closely involved since the work’s inception is soloist Maya Beiser; dubbed “the post-modern diva of the cello” (Boston Globe), Beiser was a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, and has worked with composers from Steve Reich to Brian Eno. In the latter half of Room No. 35, she plays on an ©Erika Harrsch-LEDCello that was custom-designed for the concerto by Harrsch herself, using panels of light-emitting diodes to amplify, distort, deconstruct, and re-imagine the images that tell the story.

Not only the first composition to harness the K-Bow’s interactive capabilities, but also the first to integrate LED technology with instrument design, Labyrinth marks an important landmark in the development of live technology. As the Daily Illini reported, after the work premiered in 2014 at the University of Illinois’s Krannert Center, Labyrinth installation dazzles, stuns. … A journey layered with tantalizing visual and audial stimuli, … Labyrinth is cutting-edge on many fronts.”

Labyrinth is a co-commission and production with Beth Morrison Projects.

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

About VisionIntoArt (VIA):

About VIA Records:

VisionIntoArt (VIA): upcoming presentations

Jan 29-Feb 13
Julian Crouch and Saskia Lane’s Birdheart
On tour with the Manipulate Festival UK
Co-commissioned by VisionIntoArt and National Sawdust’s curator in residence program.

Feb 4
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
Paola Prestini, Erika Harrsch, Carmen Kordas, Brad Peterson & Michael McQuilken: Labyrinth
(With Maya Beiser, cello; Tim Fain, violin)
Co-produced with Beth Morrison Projects

Feb 28–April 2
Paola Prestini, Rinde Eckert, and Julian Crouch: Aging Magician
(With Brooklyn Youth Chorus / Dianne Berkun Menaker)
Feb 28: North Adams, MA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MASSMoCA), final workshop showing
March 5 & 6: Minneapolis, MN (Walker Art Center), world premiere
April 2, Urbana-Champaign, IL (Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects, VisionIntoArt, Walker Art Center, and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt.

April 12
Da Camera of Houston, Houston, TX
John Luther Adams, William Brittelle, Paola Prestini, Glenn Kotche & Shara Worden: The Colorado, world premiere
(With Roomful of Teeth, ensemble; Jeffrey Zeigler, cello; Glenn Kotche, percussion)
Narrator: Mark Rylance; Script & General advisor: William deBuys; Film Director: Murat Eyuboglu
Commissioned and produced by VisionIntoArt

April 19
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
21c Liederabend, Op. LA
LA Philharmonic New Music Group, conducted by John Adams
Featuring the world premiere of The Hubble Cantata by Paola Prestini.
(With Craig Wedren, voice; Theo Bleckmann, baritone; Timur Bekbosunov, tenor; Jessica Rivera, soprano)
Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt, co-curated and co-directed by Beth Morrison and Paola Prestini, in collaboration with the LA Philharmonic as part of the Green Umbrella series

May 18

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
John Luther Adams, William Brittelle, Paola Prestini, Glenn Kotche & Shara Worden: The Colorado, New York Premiere
(With Roomful of Teeth, ensemble; Jeffrey Zeigler, cello; Glenn Kotche, percussion)
Narrator: Mark Rylance; Script & General advisor: William deBuys; Film Director: Murat Eyuboglu
Commissioned and produced by VisionIntoArt

Sep 24 & 25
The Watermill Center’s reACT series, Water Mill, NY
Paola Prestini’s Oceanic Verses
libretto by Donna Di Novelli and film by Ali Hossaini
Conducted by Julian Wachner, Projection Design by Brad Peterson, Sound Design by Garth
(With Helga Davis, vocalist & improviser; Claudio Prima, folksinger & accordionist; Christopher Burchett, baritone; the Choir of Trinity Wall Street & Novus NY)
Original Production commissioned by VisionIntoArt and co-produced by Beth Morrison Projects and VisionIntoArt.

© 21C Media Group, January 2016

Photo:  Maya Beiser in Labyrinth, Part Two (photo: Jill Steinberg)

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