The world premiere of a new interpretation of Stravinsky’s The Firebird highlights the Spring Dance Concert at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, March 31-April 3. The concert opens with Appalachian Spring, one of Martha Graham’s signature works. Written at the end of World War II, it is a depiction of Americana. The story tells of a spring celebration set in 19th-century Pennsylvania as a young bride arrives in her new home.
The program continues with Tschaikovsky’s Pas de Deux, an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique set to music that Tchaikovsky belatedly created in 1877 for Act III of Swan Lake.
The night promises to be equal parts visual poetry and choreographic expression. SMU Meadows student Cayla Simpson, a double major in Dance and Film, made this can’t-miss preview of the groundbreaking concert. Here’s the full video:
The Spring Dance Concert takes place in the Bob Hope Theatre in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Free parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley or in the garage under the Meadows Museum. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787.
SMU Meadows’ Professor Erin Hannigan is Principal Oboe of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Before coming to Dallas, she was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic from 1994 to 2001. During the summer, she performs with the Music in the Mountains Festival in Durango, Colo. Recent performances outside Dallas include engagements as guest principal oboist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Recently, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra went behind the scenes with Professor Hannigan and Operation Kindness. Watch (and listen) the beautiful piece here:
We spoke with Associate Professor Lisa Pon about her findings, the campus-spanning collaboration, and why it’s exciting. See more at The SMU Division of Art History, and apply now to join our Meadows community.
What was one of the most exciting findings or results from your research?
Everyone can imagine that hanging tapestries would change acoustics in a space—but our research demonstrated for the first time that the presence of a Renaissance tapestry actually does so, and does so differently for song and spoken word.
What roles did Meadows students play in your research?
Meadows music students sang pieces of Renaissance music by Josquin des Prez used in the Sistine Chapel, the Missa Pange Lingua. They were recorded and the recordings played in the Meadows Museum gallery with the fifteenth-century Pastrana tapestries hanging there on display, and again after the exhibition closed and the Pastrana tapestries had been removed. More than 70 SMU undergraduate students in art history, music history, and and musical acoustics classes, as well as some thirty staff and faculty members, took surveys about their subjective responses to the recordings. So we were able to discuss both changes in the sounds themselves and also how the sounds were perceived.
How did Meadows students collaborate with other students across campus?
Meadows faculty from ARHS and Music and World Languages and Literatures participated in the preparation of the recordings and development of the surveys; faculty from Physics and Engineering assisted in the acoustical analysis of the music played in the Meadows Museum gallery; Meadows Museum staff helped give all of us access to the gallery during the Pastrana tapestry exhibition and after it had closed.
How did the cross-collaboration benefit your research?
This groundbreaking research in which scientific acoustical analysis is brought to bear on Renaissance music and spoken text would not have been possible without the expertise of musicians, a music educator, an electrical engineer, a physicist, a statistician, and an art historian.
I also drew parallels between the scientific results that were obtained and the types of problems regarding bad acoustics in the Sistine Chapel that are documented in the historical record of the early sixteenth century. The cross-collaboration allowed me to argue that the famous tapestries designed by Raphael for the Sistine Chapel not only added to the visual decoration, but also affected the acoustical environment, which was very important to Raphael’s patron, Pope Leo X. This pope loved polyphonic music such as that by Josquin des Pres (used in our experiments) and had Swiss guards going around shushing the cardinals so he could hear better!