The Cape Ann Symphony normally practices its craft on the large stage, in front of an auditorium full of listeners. This Saturday a smaller set of those listeners will get to hear some of the symphony’s finest musicians in a more intimate setting.
The program is called Musicians Unleashed, and this weekend’s performance at Movement Arts (MAGMA) in downtown Gloucester is meant to begin a series of fundraising concerts for the Symphony, introducing a smaller, chamber-music sized ensemble of orchestra members.
The first of three Musicians Unleashed programs, Dance of the Instruments looks at the intersection of movement and music. MAGMA director and choreographer Sarah Slifer Swift is collaborating with principal second violinist Susanne Powers and five other CAS musicians.
Powers and Slifer Swift curated the program. “We’ll be talking about the relationship between classical music and dance,” Slifer Swift says. “It is a concert, but we will take a very light touch. We plan to do some talking, and demonstrate a number of approaches to dance.”
Dance in the classical music concert hall is usually not movement at all, but some musically stylized interpretation of dance rhythms, taken from both privileged and folk or vernacular sources.
“We’ll show a little of how dance moves musically, from the courts, to the stage, and to the classroom,” Slifer Swift says. “I’m going to talk about the history of dance, but demonstrate too. How the mazurka moved from a folk dance to classical music, or how other dances were brought into the great ballet works.
“I also want to talk about the modern decoupling of the power structure,” she says. In explaining, Slifer Swift notes that throughout the history of dance and music, the music has always come first, with the dancer (or choreographer) responding to it.
“I’m going to talk about how that can change,” she says. “Take Merce Cunningham and John Cage—they staged pieces where the choreographer didn’t know the music beforehand, and the musicians didn’t know the dance. I’m going to bring in a piece I choreographed, and we’ll try the same thing.”
Oksana Ghorokovskiy (violin), Kett-Chuan Lee (cello), Richey Tally (bass), Priscilla Walter (pianist), and Barbara Clement (flute) will join Powers and Slifer Swift in the performance. The music ranges from early classical (Boccherini) to the 20th century (Shostakovich and Fauré).
Dance of the Instruments is the first of three fundraising outreach programs this spring. Subsequent Musicians Unleashed concerts, all different in approach, will take place in Gloucester’s St. John’s Church (Bach to the Future, on Feb. 24), and in Manchester’s Crowell Chapel (Spring into Strings, on Apr. 28).
“I’m excited to be working with this group,” Slifer Swift says, “and seeing what we can do with the music. This space is built for acoustic instruments, and an event like this takes a smaller ensemble out into the community.”
The Cape Ann Symphony, in conjunction with Movement Arts Gloucester, presents Dance of the Instruments, part of the symphony’s Musicians Unleashed fundraising campaign, on Sat., Jan. 26 at 4:00 p.m., at MAGMA, 11 Pleasant St., Gloucester. Tickets and information are available at www.capeannsymphony.org or 978-281-0543.