Top Five Rite of Spring Celebrations in 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Members of Shen Wei Dance Arts perform Members of Shen Wei Dance Arts perform "Rite of Spring," which is set to the music of Igor Stravinsky. (Photo by Christy Pessagno)

Upon its premiere on May 29, 1913, The Rite of Spring famously provoked a riot that spilled out of the theater into the streets of Paris and the newspapers of the day, and forever resonated in both the music and dance world.

As we mark the 100th anniversary of the original ballet and its revolutionary score, the work has become a modern staple even if it still seems radical. This year, Boosey & Hawkes has counted 386 performances of the work, including ones by practically every professional orchestra in the world. Those don’t include celebrations such as Q2’s Rite of Spring Fever, a 24-hour marathon of Stravinsky’s masterpiece and works that it inspired. We tracked down five more centennial fetes worthy of the original.

1. A Dozen-Plus Performances in Paris

In Paris, at the site of the Rite’s premiere, the Orchestra and Ballet of the Mariinsky Theater will kick off a 14-performance celebration of the piece at the Theatre des Champs Elysée, which is also celebrating its centennial. Valery Gergiev will conduct the work, which will be accompanied with choreography based upon Nijinsky’s rabble-rousing original steps. The festival also features versions choreographed by Pina Bausch and Akram Khan, and ones conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Daniele Gatti and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

 

2. Carolina Performing Arts: A Year-Long Festival

Stateside, the University of North Carolina and Carolina Performing Arts put together a season-long holistic look at the landmark work. Anchored by a scholarly weekend conference, featuring a keynote address by Richard Taruskin, The Rite of Spring at 100 presented the work in its original form. A number of avant-garde artists and ensembles, including International Contemporary Ensemble, Joffrey Ballet, Vijay Iyer, Basil Twist, and Bill T. Jones, developed programs that explored the legacy of the Rite through dance, puppetry, jazz, and contemporary music. And although there are no performances left, the festival has left a great virtual space to listen, read, and learn all about The Rite; the blog, Reflections on The Rite, is still being updated with new information.

 

3. David Zinman Goes to the Source

Perhaps the most faithful re-creation of The Rite, at least where the music is concerned, will take place in Zurich on June 8-9 with the American conductor David Zinman leading the Tonhalle Orchestra. Zinman was an assistant to Pierre Monteux, who conducted the frenzied premiere, at the time of the Rite’s 50th anniversary in 1963. During next month’s program, Zinman will explore the folkloric and other musical influences of the work before conducting a historically informed version.

 

4. The Pacific Symphony Crowdsources The Rite

The Pacific Symphony won’t just acknowledge The Rite of Spring in three performances of the piece in June, but in a social-media driven website where people are encouraged to share their own remixed, reimagined, and reinterpreted version of Stravinsky’s original. Called Re:Rite Of Spring, the project has received dozens of submissions. We’re particularly enchanted by Stephen Malinowsky’s mesmorizing graphical animations of the score.

 

5. Getting the Bard Music Festival Treatment

In past years the Bard Music Festival has eschewed big anniversary years, mostly relying on the strong content of its programming rather than a timely hook for its annual theme. However, this year’s Stravinsky and His World, is pegged to the centennial of The Rite of Spring, which will be played by the American Composer’s Orchestra. The famous piece will most likely be a topic of discussion at panels throughout the two weekends.

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