By Lisa Green
Every facet of “Paintings in Song — Visions of Norman Rockwell” involves a “multi” reference. Commissioned by Crescendo
, it is a multimedia piece, combining music, voice and art. It is a union of arts organizations, artists and a composer. And it is a multi-generational endeavor, from the family members represented in Norman Rockwell’s painting to the inclusion of both the adult Crescendo chorus and the Berkshire Children’s Chorus.
In our neck of the woods, we call it community, and it has taken one to put together this ambitious concert program, which will have its world premiere April 1 at Saint James Place in Great Barrington, Mass. and Mattison Hall in Kent, Conn. on April 2. For “Paintings and Song,” Berkshires-based composer John Myers
has taken inspiration from the iconic “Four Freedoms” and five other paintings by Rockwell. The piece includes text, making it a choral piece, as well. The music reflects the subject of each painting as well as the music style of the time period in which it was created.
Myers’ music is accompanied by large-screen animations based on each of the paintings, created by artists Alice Myers and Anna Sabatini, who used digital technology to portray the paintings as dynamic visual elements. The concert also includes selections of traditional American folk songs arranged by choral composer Alice Parker that will complement the themes in the Rockwell paintings.
, founder and artistic director of Crescendo, will conduct the concert.
And to add another multi, a documentary is being made of the creation of the work by Rich Bradway, an Emmy-winning documentarian; he’s the digital director at the Museum. It’s important to note that the entire effort has been blessed by the Norman Rockwell Museum, which provided critical conceptual and interpretive support with the animations of Rockwell’s paintings by Myers and Sabatini.
“The team’s artistic response to Norman Rockwell’s art offers meaningful and relevant commentary for our times,” says Stephanie Plunkett, chief curator/deputy director of the Museum. "We have greatly enjoyed this special collaboration.”
Following the world premiere, the work will be presented in schools and museums around the region, and will reach a wider audience through film and a CD recording.
Paintings In Song — Visions of Norman Rockwell
Saturday, April 1, 3 and 7 p.m. at Saint James Place
, 352 Main St., Great Barrington, MA
Sunday, April 2, 4 p.m. at Kent School
, 1 Macedonia Rd., Kent, CT