Bard festival to premiere dance on Eliot's 'Four Quartets'

 12 Feb 2018 - 16:07

Bard festival to premiere dance on Eliot's 'Four Quartets'
File photo of TS Eliot used for representation.

AFP

New York: Seventy-five years after T.S. Eliot published "Four Quartets," leading artists will turn the classic poems into an interlinked work of dance, music and visual art at the Bard SummerScape festival.

The world premiere will mark a highlight of the festival's season announced Monday, which runs from June 28 to August 19 at Bard College, set along the Hudson River 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of New York City.

Eight dancers in the company of modern choreographer Pam Tanowitz will perform "Four Quartets" to music by Kaija Saariaho, the prominent Finnish composer who creates rich masses of sound through research at the IRCAM center for acoustic science in Paris.

The interdisciplinary work, to run from July 6 to 8, will also bring in visual art by painter Brice Marden, known for his abstract works that combine modern minimalism and Asian traditions.

"Four Quartets," along with "The Waste Land," is considered one of the seminal works of Eliot, the Nobel Prize-winning American-turned-British poet.

Published in one volume in 1943, "Four Quartets" reflects on the nature of time -- "If all time is eternally present/ All time is unredeemable," he writes -- as he delves into both Christian and Hindu philosophy.

Aside from the world premiere, the festival also offers a chance to revive often-overlooked works -- a passion of Leon Botstein, a music scholar who is president of Bard College.

The latest festival will shine a light on the 19th-century Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, whom Botstein called woefully underappreciated.

"He is a much more substantial and interesting composer than most American audiences realize," Botstein said.

"He also had an unbelievable influence on Russian musical life," he said.

Rimsky-Korsakov is best known to modern audiences for the brief, frenetic "The Flight of the Bumblebee" and to a lesser extent "Scheherazade," his suite -- later set to a ballet -- based on "One Thousand and One Nights."

The Bard festival will aim to show how Rimsky-Korsakov, including through his incorporation of both Eastern and Western motifs, came to influence classical music in Russia and beyond.

The festival will present Rimsky-Korsakov works that are rarely played outside of Russia, including one-act opera "Mozart and Salieri" and opera "The Tsar's Bride."