This November, the faculty of Elizabethtown College will sponsor a multimedia program centered on Paris. The presentation of “Paris at the Turn of the Century” will be free and open to the public. This event will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9, in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center and will begin at 7:30 p.m. This concert will feature both faculty and student musical performances, poetry readings and artwork.
According to Sarah Daughtrey, assistant professor of music, “The event came about as a furthering of the ideas we presented in our (mine and those of Ms. Debra Ronning, both in the music division of the department of fine and performing arts) past program, ‘The Arts of Spain,’ which we presented in the Spring of 2010 and for which we won a faculty grant.”
Daughtrey went on to state, “Like this program, it was a multimedia presentation of music, poetry and dance.” She explained she “was inspired by the idea of an interdisciplinary approach to the arts: that no art stands alone, and each influences the other, as well as the fact that traditional approaches to classical music often leave younger audiences out in the cold.”
Daughtrey believes younger audiences will be interested in this presentation; because of the use of “explanatory slides and images,” she believes that the audience will be able to better interact with what they are seeing and hearing better than in a traditional recital performance. She believes this method will bring “new dimensions” to the music performances.
This event came about through discussions with the former dean of faculty, Dr. Christina Bucher, who was very encouraging after the past success of the Spanish program. Brian Newsome, associate professor in the history department, was also part of the beginning discussions and will be involved in giving a presentation about the history of this era. Newsome explained, “Through musical performances, poetry readings and the projection of images of art and architecture, the performers and presenters will introduce the audience to Parisian culture in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We will use the Expositions of 1878, 1889 and 1900 as touchstones.”
He went on to say that his role is to deliver a pre-concert lecture through which he can provide the social, economic and political background to put the Expositions in perspective. He hopes that his lecture will help the audience to appreciate and anticipate recitals of this type in the future. He has studied and taught history of this period for many years and is preparing for the performance by doing additional reading on the topic as well as the evolution of art, music and literature during this period.
Alison Mekeel, an adjunct faculty member, will be performing three songs from Claude Debussy’s works “Ariettes Oubliees.” Mekeel explained that she is most excited about singing Debussy because “his music fits my voice well, and I love the music and the way he sets the texts. They are delicate and sensual songs.” She hopes the audience enjoys her performance and can more deeply explore the richness of the pieces she performs.
Dr. Patricia Ricci, director of the fine arts division and associate professor of fine arts, is in charge of all of the visual art that will be shown at the event. All the art will come from the historical era of Paris from 1855 to 1937. Ricci explained that “we include visual art for several reasons. First, we use it to give the audience a glimpse of the Paris World’s Fairs that took place during these years. I selected images that will introduce the audience to the ways French culture changed over several generations.”
She then said, “During the second half of the 19th century, Modernism was born and Paris became the innovator in culture. There was continuous experimentation with new forms of visual perception, for example: Impressionism, Pointillism, Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism and Surrealism. Other images were selected to [show] how the composers and the poets were depicted by the contemporary painters and photographers who knew them.” She chose images that she believed would serve as theatrical scenery to enhance the performances.
Ricci hopes the audience will enjoy themselves and ultimately transport them to a time and place filled with energy, optimism and creativity. “I would like the audience to experience the exhilaration the French call joie de vivre,” she said.
This event will also include mime acts. Theresa Mastrobuono, of the theatre department, will be performing two mime pieces about three to four minutes long each to act as transitions between pieces. Mastrobuono explained, “I was given the music and theme of the evening and will be creating the pieces based on what the ‘story’ of the music sounds like.”
She explained how she prepares for performances: “I listen to the music over and over again, until it begins to give me images in my mind. Then, I try to string those images together so they form some sort of narrative. Then, I move to the music and images, connecting them as I go. I like to mix in a little audience interaction as well, just to keep the audience involved and have the performance be more fun.” Mastrobuono hopes the audience will take “fun and beauty” from her performance.
Daughtrey added, “Students of French, under the direction of Sharon Trachte, [associate professor of modern languages], will be reading selections of poetry and literature, ranging from excerpts from Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Misérables’ to Guillaume Apollinaire to contemporary reactions to the building of the Eiffel Tower.”
Students from Daughtrey’s First-Year Seminar, “Opera to Broadway,” will also be a part of the presentation as background actors. Other students will also perform dances, songs and an accordion piece. This program is a great chance for students and faculty to experience and immerse in many aspects of technology, music and art from this historical era.