On a very hot and sultry July evening, something a little bit special happened. The place was Grays Civic Hall, Essex and the event was a programme of music in which 'Jazz met the Classics' - "an outstanding evening of jazz and classical music made possible by the unique partnership of the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, Royal Opera House, Thurrock International Celebration of Culture, Thurrock Music Services" - and CG Arts & Animation at UCA Rochester.*
Our involvement in Friday's joyous celebration of rhythm and musical cross-pollination began all the way back in March, when a ground-breaking collaboration was launched in Lecture Theatre 2. Over the course of ten consecutive days, students, staff and alumni of BA (Hons) CG Arts & Animation were challenged to produce synesthetic digital paintings in response to Darius Milhaud's La création du monde.
Importantly, participants were not initiated into Milhaud’s music prior to the challenge; they were asked to respond freely and subjectively to what they heard – to visualize their auditory first impressions with enthusiasm and impunity; to give colour, texture, shape, and form to the shifting moods and rhythms of Milhaud’s jazz inspired composition.
CGAA Artist-in-Residence Tom Beg and CGAA graduate Jordan Buckner collated the resulting 334 original paintings. From this wealth of synesthetic imagery Tom and Jordan derived the original abstract animation that accompanied Friday's live performance of Milhaud’s La création du monde as played by the Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne.
The animation was rear-projected onto an eight-metre screen immediately behind the seated orchestra. Behind the projection screen, Tom and Jordan worked alongside Keith Burden from projection company Clever Projections to ensure the animation remained in synch with the orchestra by modifying the duration of the animation as and when it became necessary: a little faster here, a little slower there, the images following the conductor's lead.
10am and counting...
An amazing bit of kit 1
An amazing bit of kit 2
An amazing bit of kit 3
Watching, hoping, pacing...
Aligning the projectors
Tom, Keith (from Clever Projections) & Jordan waiting nervously backstage
Setting the mood
The orchestra gets ready
The audience arrives
7.30pm. Curtain up!
Stills from La création du monde - the animation
From the outset, the ACT/CGAA Milhaud animation project has demonstrated the exciting potential of collaboration and interdisciplinarity in the creation of original work - an entire community using music to make images, an animation art-directed by a crowd, an animation designed to accompany the live performance of classical music, artists, animators, musicians combining to create a real cultural 'wow'. This was a great project, a bold undertaking - and a risk. The applause that followed the animation was rapturous, the feedback since from the event's organisers equally so. Our congratulations then to Tom and Jordan for all their sustained hard work and artistic sensibility in bringing our images to such vivid life - but congratulations too to everyone who participated in the project. Be of no doubt - this was a big hit for CGAA - and there's already talk of the animation going to France for a repeat performance!
So, finally, for those of you who were unable to attend the concert, sit back and enjoy the complete animation here. For your viewing pleasure then, I give you La création du monde by Tom Beg and Jordan Buckner (and by you, and you, and you, and you!)
*This project is part of the ACT network, selected under the European cross-border cooperation programme INTERREG IV A France (Channel) – England, co-funded by the ERDF.