the rite of spring (2016 - 2017)
The Rite of Spring is personal. Sounds and feels personal. Perhaps because Stravinsky ties his music to the seasons, to ancient sacred rites, to the earth – places to which we all have a sense of belonging. Or perhaps it is because the Rite is so inherently visual; it flashes in the mind in a series of distinct, explosive tableaux, images that can only be of our own making. It moves urgently, madly, yet with almost mechanical deliberateness. Perhaps it is simply this rhythmic and sonic charge that forces us to take Stravinsky’s Rite so personally.
Whatever the reason, it is powerfully affecting, an incredible work of raw, sometimes savage emotion. I found a connection with the Rite from first hearing, but when I began this project, I don’t think I fully understood the challenge that was ahead. The Rite is epic, iconic, complex, difficult to leave – and definitely not to be touched. With little musical expertise to speak of, I felt challenged on all fronts. I have relied principally on two sources as textual guides: Peter Hill’s Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Cambridge University Press, 2000 and Stephen Walsh’s, The Music of Stravinsky, Oxford University Press, 2001, I am greatly indebted to both texts for their help and their ideas.
I hope you find a connection with some of the works and view them as they are intended – as a tribute to Stravinsky but also independent pieces which followed a trajectory of their own, linking with and developing themes already central to my practice.
ES August 2017
A note on score and recording: I have relied exclusively on Boosey and Hawkes’ reproduction of the score: “Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Le Sacre du printemps, Full Orchestral Score, The Masterworks Library, 1997, (Revised 1947, Re-engraved edition 1967). And in recording on: The Rite of Spring, San Francisco Orchestra with conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, September 2004, SFS Media.
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At the Centre is a Dancer
Love Dies Dancing
Dance of the Earth
Splitting the Dawn
Made with the National Youth Orchestra as they rehearsed The Rite of Spring.
My thanks to all at the NYO for allowing me the opportunity to draw with them, the sound was fabulous.