Unframed's Stephanie Sykes spoke with Mitch Glickman, LACMA's director of music programs, about the upcoming season of LACMA's Art & Music concert series, an innovative series that pairs music and dance performances with LACMA's collections and exhibitions. This season gets underway with the ballet Caravaggio, performed by the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, on February 6. Stephanie Sykes: How did you develop the Caravaggio-focused program for LACMA’s first Art & Music event of 2013? Mitch Glickman: Art & Music is a contemporary-themed concert series, so the question is: How do you take a Baroque artist and make it modern? And how do you celebrate the numerous paintings in the exhibition that feature musicians and instruments from the day? With this concert celebrating Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and his Legacy, I am trying something very different for our Art & Music series. The first half of the program features Baroque instrumentalists performing throughout the galleries in front of paintings depicting musicians. These performances take you through the entire exhibition and will establish connections to the work; for example, you will have a lute player in front of a painting of a lute player. The second half of the concert program moves to the Bing Theater for a special performance of the ballet Caravaggio.
SS: What is the story behind Caravaggio and bringing the performance to LACMA? MG: The presentation of ballet is another first for the Art & Music series. I am indebted to Alberto di Mauro, director of the Italian Cultural Institute, for introducing me to a new ballet by leading Italian composer Giovanni Sollima appropriately titled Caravaggio. The ballet is a brilliant fusion of past and present, Baroque and contemporary, expertly choreographed by the resident choreographer of Balletto Teatro di Torino, Matteo Levaggi. Through the support of IIC, we were able to bring out Mr. Levaggi from Italy to work with one of Southern California’s leading dance troupes, the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company, led by Kate Hutter. We are thrilled to be able to present the U.S. premiere of this stunning work that captures the energy, passion, and soul of Caravaggio.
SS: What other highlights can we look forward to in the 2013 season of Art & Music? MG: One highlight this season is our May 7 concert featuring Steve Reich & Friends. The concert features Reich works, old and new, including the LA premiere of Piano Counterpoint with Vicki Ray. Reich will perform in the concert along with percussionist David Johnson and the CalArts Percussion Ensemble, the Lyris String Quartet, and pianist Joanne Pearce Martin. We are also excited to again be working with Long Beach Opera presenting an afternoon with composers Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Mark Gordon (Bang on a Can), and this year’s series closes with the New York–based group ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble) directed by recently announced MacArthur Grant award winner Claire Chase. It is rare treat to experience such a wide array of today’s finest contemporary performers and composers. Tickets to all Art & Music performances are on sale now. Stephanie Sykes