Beethoven Festival: The Man & The Muse 2011
“UNEXPECTED SMASH OF THE SEASON” – Time Out Chicago
“an ambitious, eclectic, barrier-blasting, uneven, ultimately wonderful cornucopia of Beethoveniana inaugurated last week in a former warehouse on South Halsted Street” - Chicago Tribune
“YEAR’S BEST NEW UNDERTAKING IN CLASSICAL MUSIC” - Chicago Tribune
How do I breathe life into a subject already explored time and again over so many decades? These are the questions I asked myself when I first embarked on my journey for the Beethoven Festival 2011.
This festival is about breaking down the barriers between music, art and film; between performer and audience; between the past and the present. It is about introducing Beethoven, the man, the muse and the artist, to a contemporary audience who knows little about the rebellious and courageous life of this incredible master composer.
I wanted to reincarnate Ludwig for a modern audience, for a new generation that would carry on his work and his spirit. Portraiture… recreating and multiplying Ludwig’s visage until he can watch us from every corner of the space.
To build a man from fragments, from limited expressions; from symbols, lines and color; that was my challenge.
I started slowly, patiently, letting the project guide me as much as I pushed it forward. Ludwig greatness and intensity came through immediately (Gail Stoicheff). His playfulness and mischief appeared next (Carly Ivan Garcia). The two portraits exposed the duality of Ludwig’s character – the master and the bad boy. I went back to the same artists and asked them to challenge their perceptions of who they believed Ludwig to be, and thus paint distorted mirrors of their first portraits. Beethoven’s youth and thorniness emerged (Gail Stoicheff); his fierceness was then unwrapped (Carly Ivan Garcia): a mirror of Ludwig’s own rebellion against society’s perceptions of him. But there was something missing. Beethoven was famous for his passion, his reckless love affairs, and his soulful femininity (Rachel Monosov). And the tragic end, the death, the sickness, the sadness; all with incredible strength and honor (Mike Cuffe).
Once these elements were in place, his life and character before my eyes, it was time to bring dear Ludwig into the present. I found him on the streets on illegally pasted wheat paper (Hugh Leeman), in the dark corners of Stanley Kubrik’s violent films (Brian Leo), as a young music student who worships the Beatles (Amy Hill), and through the eyes of a dozen children (Edward J. Hines). Beethoven lived and breathed in these amazing pieces and I wondered how HE would see OUR modern society, our design elements (Maya Kalabic), our fetishism (Rhom), our everyday surroundings (David J. Eichenberg), and finally, our similarities with his own time – our ability to be classic, mature and beautiful (Anne Worbes), and the interminable attempts of our artists to understand, create and write the world (Amir Parsa). What would he be most impressed by? Maybe the invention of the moving image, in this case so brilliantly presented in its antithesis (Mostafa Heravi). I looked back at all this and Beethoven smiled with warmth and friendship as he entered my life forever (Danielle Lurie). Lastly, satisfied and thankful, I exhaled and let the spirit fly free (Amina Ahmed).
This is where my statement was meant to end. But then, something happened. Another portrait emerged from over 100 years of slumber in one box or another to show its face for the first time here (Thomas Sully).
Chicago Tribune - “an ambitious, eclectic, barrier-blasting, uneven, ultimately wonderful cornucopia of Beethoveniana inaugurated last week in a former warehouse on South Halsted Street”
Time Out Chicago - “Beethoven bash may well be Chicago’s hippest and most inclusive classical festival to date, but what really makes it special is its community vibe”
Now YOU Know – “BF2011 features a unique exhibit of new portraits of Beethoven commissioned for Beethoven Festival 2011 · Short film premieres and art installations”
Patron of the Arts – “A radical new vision for presenting culture in both contemporary and historical contexts”
Time Our Chicago - ”…with hordes of Chicago-area and guest musicians gathering for heartfelt performances in a laid-back setting. The event was hard evidence of the sense of community among our city’s young musicians. More important, it was proof that classical can be performed in radical environments and be inclusive, inviting and exciting to all.”
In addition to the art exhibit, the Festival features 70 musicians–performing over 80 pieces of music from 20 living composers, 12 contemporary artists, 5 filmmakers, 3 scholars, 2 actors and 1 poet. Also featured are twenty new works for piano solo and music spanning 400 years –from baroque to rock, solo to orchestra, with plenty of Beethoven at center. Food and Drink vendors will be on location to allow audiences to enjoy concerts with a glass in hand, in a home-like setting.
President and Artistic Director of IBP, George Lepauw, explains: “Few people get to experience the great master as he should be: a true radical in a radical setting. Beethoven was a rebel who broke all the rules of musical and societal conventions, changing forever the world of art and the rights of the artist. He was the first modernist. Thus we are challenging all the rules of classical music programming, in honor of Beethoven’s spirit of defiance and experimentation, with the goal of inspiring artists and audiences to be fearless, visionary and always hopeful. Ultimately this project is not really about music, or art, but about humanity and bringing people together around memorable and beautiful sights and sounds.