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VENUS BLAZING - TOURING EDUCATION PROGRAMME
  • VENUS BLAZING - IS THERE ANYONE OUT THERE?
    Arts Council Contemporary Music Network Tour ‘Venus Blazing’, with education and outreach in Cambridge, Liverpool, Cardiff and London (2004-5) Using NASA recordings from space, found sounds, recording of every day machines and folk music rhythmic patterns, students from arts focused 6th form colleges in Cambridge, Cardiff and Liverpool worked with the Venus Blazing Music Trust team alongside members of the Britten Sinfonia to create their own music theatre works in response to Gribbin’s violin concerto ‘Venus Blazing’.
  • GOALS & OBJECTIVES
    The principal aim of The Venus Blazing Tour was to present traditional concert hall performance in an innovative and engaging way to attract new audiences not familiar with contemporary classical music. The work toured across the UK to the Cambridge Corn Exchange, Cardiff St David’s Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and The Queen Elizabeth Hall, London Southbank Centre. Working with Bruce Springsteen’s lighting designer Jeff Ravitz, director Lou Stein created an event where the audience was invited on a journey of discovery through a theatrical evening with staging and lighting that completely redefined the concert hall space and the nature of orchestral performance. Lighting and movement cues were written into the musical score by the composer and incorporated fully into the production. The composer also designed painted costumes for the orchestra that lit up under ultra violet light. Through a series of outreach programmes attached to the tour venues students were invited to develop concepts for their own music which would incorporate new theatrical approaches to performance and design, alongside development of their musical ideas. Participants were encouraged to create an environment in which their new work was played and received, where the impact on the audience was a key consideration to their overall ideas. This pioneering project examined the nature of collaboration and of how ideas are practically delivered as a team endeavour. In 1687 a French man of letter referred to inhabitants of Venus as follows: “…. the Venusians are rather like the Moors of Spain, always dancing, and enthralled by festivities.” This was used as a starting point to develop narrative and character. Students worked in groups to interpret a contemporary fantasy sci-fi world, recreating their notion of planet Venus, scripting story and dialogue for their imagined Venusians, blending voice, music, movement and pre-recorded NASA sound material. Narrative and words were then fashioned into structures experimenting with using staging and lighting to present the new works in unconventional ways. For example, musicians started by playing horizontally on the surface of the stage floor and were elevated by the participants- pulled, pushed and manipulated as they played.
  • OUTCOMES
    A discussion based evaluation period was built into the final phase of the project. One of the biggest realizations from participants had to do with the complex nature of collaborative practice where a multi-disciplinary team needs to find ways to communicate with each other to achieve an agreed final outcome. This multi-disciplined approach to composition showed the endless possibilities inherent in good collaboration and also revealed some of the inherent problems to do with artistic hierarchy and holding onto ideas that do not work as well in collaborative practice. It also encouraged participants to find their voices and to assert themselves and their ideas with confidence because of their hands on involvement in the production side of their music performance. This organic development presented a new freedom in devising for the students. Those with strengths in visual realizations of ideas were encouraged to input and develop ideas alongside those used to working with more familiar conventional composition practices. The result was stunning. There was a sense of true team building and tremendous respect for each individual’s views and artistic opinions.
VENUS BLAZING MUSIC AND THEATRE TRUST
(C) 2018 VENUS BLAZING MUSIC AND THEATRE TRUST
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