In the Fall of 2014, The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and the Alberta College of Art + Design engaged in a collaboration of Oliver Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie. The live performance took place on Saturday November 29th at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary Alberta.
ACAD's role in this collaboration was to break down each movement, and study every line of music in order to piece together a visual narrative. Through film, animation and computer programming, a digital performance was created that was projection mapped onto the various interior architectural structures of the concert hall. Our team was made up of five people; ACAD faculty members Kurtis Lesick and Craig Fahner, and three students, Kaylee Novakovski, Matthew Lindenberg and Kelly-Ann Desouza.
While writing the symphony, Messiaen was said to be enthralled by the mythology of Tristan & Isolde. Turangalila is Messiaen's love song. To iterate the reality of romance, it is fast paced, loud aggressive, sorrowful, calm, and exciting. It goes through every emotion and perfectly encapsulates Messiaen's synesthesia, and by mashing up so many different themes and sounds, it can be considered one of the earliest forms of remix. This 75-80 minute piece is a constant push and pull of opposites such as day vs night and love as sweet interplay vs love on a cosmic level. They then play on the linear narrative of first encounter, falling in love and dying.
For my part, I was tasked with creating illustrations and rotoscope animation. Based upon on the myth of Tristan & Isolde, after their deaths, two trees grew from their graves, their branches intertwining as a symbol of their love. I create two dominate images, representing the two characters. I illustrated a hazel tree for Tristan and a honeysuckle for Isolde. These images were projected onto the organ pipes above the orchestra. Instead of animating the branches intertwining, I animated roots descending from each tree to wrap around each other and start blooming flowers and fruit. This was played to their themes within the music. Within the woodwinds, Messiaen constructed various bird song melodies that would break up the intensity of the music. For these bird calls, I animated several loops of birds hopping, chirping, fidgeting and flying. The bird calls were played so frequently throughout the music, that there would almost constantly be a bird projected.
Kaylee's work with pre 1946 films, Mat's beautifully colourful visiualizer and my animations accomplished a visual remix, that correlated with the vigorous performance of the CPO. Together, a cohesive audio-visual harmony was created to celebrate the work of Olivier Messiaen's Turangalîla.