Last week, we had a day in the Studio at the Bristol Old Vic with the lighting engineer and camera crew to test out our ideas. We experimented with different ways to hang our projection screens, thought about where to position the projectors, tested out the cameras and experimented with lighting effects. Our general aim is to create a setting that will enhance the intimacy of the Quartet’s performance. In so doing, we want to help bring the uninitiated into the music without spoiling things for aficionados. Quite a challenge we know but heh – that’s what the Bristol Proms is all about.
We are keen to use drapes as opposed to flat screens to create an ‘organic’ setting for the projections in keeping with the humanity of Beethoven’s late works. We plan to hang them vertically – one for each musician – to privilege a portrait-style view of the players. The thinking behind this is that it will enable us to layer closeups onto a baseline mid shot of each musician playing. We only had one musician, which was me – rather scratchy but enough to establish that the layering of close-ups over a static mid-shot creates some beautiful imagery which is absorbing to watch.
I have designed a mood board as inspiration for my thinking for our cinematic setting. Shadows feature heavily in these images and we have every intention of picking out those fascinating and beautiful shapes that the Quartet make when they play their instruments. In line with general aim of the Bristol Proms, the idea is to bring new audiences to classical music by being innovative with approaches to its performance. Seurat’s drawings are a big inspiration – a recent discovery for me through my drawing classes. His work is wonderful – evocative and mysterious. Just beautiful.
We want to create an immersive setting which will allow the audience to become absorbed in watching how the Quartet relate to their instruments and to each other as they play. We do not, however, want this to compromise the listening experience in any way, particularly in the timeless third movement. I am looking forward to experimenting with the different possibilities for how we might achieve this when we have our full rehearsal with Quartet and crew next week. We plan to experiment with the lighting as well as camera angles to reflect the different moods of the music.
This is the listing for my current project for the Bristol Proms 2014: Associate artists at Bristol Old Vic The Sacconi Quartet, follow their performance of Schubert’s Quintet in C (Bristol Proms 2013) with Beethoven’s great Quartet opus 132, performed in the intimate environs of the Old Vic Studio. Collaborating with Judith Aston and her colleagues from the UWE Filmmaking department, the performance will experiment with cameras, multiple projections and VJ-ing to explore how a cinematic environment can be created to help evoke the imagination and emotion that comes with the music.
After my initial conversations with the Quartet and The Old Vic, I have invited Michael Sides and James Gates from the Russian Winter film crew to work alongside me. We had our first workshop with the Sacconis two weeks ago when they came to Bristol to play for us and discuss their approach. I was immediately struck by their body language and the shapes that they create, both as individual musicians playing their instruments and as a quartet playing together. It is these subtle shifts and more obvious transformations that occur through the performance of the music that we intend to capture on film.
The performance will be in the Bristol Old Vic Studio Theatre on Weds 30th July.