To celebrate 80 years of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO), managing director Vincent Ciccarello wanted to do something out of the ordinary. The answer: commission six visual artists to create works that respond to the acclaimed local orchestra and/or music.
The idea for this unique commemoration of the orchestra’s eight decades hatched when Ciccarello visited the Stirling-based Aptos Cruz with his wife and fell in love with a piece by figurative painter Stewart MacFarlane, who is one of the six artists who took part in this project to raise funds for the ASO’s 80th year. After meeting Aptos Cruz’s owner Steve Ronayne, Ciccarello held a dinner for ASO sponsors and donors at Aptos Cruz to meet the orchestra’s new principal conductor Nicholas Carter. “It was the basis for a very happy relationship [with Aptos Cruz] I’ve got to say,” Ciccarello says. “We wanted to commemorate our 80th anniversary in some special way. We thought that perhaps a book or CD were a little bit predictable – not suggesting we won’t do that – but ultimately we wanted something a little more poetic for want of another description. Given that music deals with the intangible, the ineffable and the ethereal, we thought we should bring visual arts together with music to see the results.”
Annette Bezor, Moonlight Sonata (2016)
The artists involved are some of the country’s most acclaimed: Annette Bezor, David Reid, Jim Thalassoudis, Dianne Gall, James Cochran and Stewart MacFarlane, who all responded with personal and unique works. Some of the works are portraits of musicians, some are mood pieces while Thalassoudis’ Light Symphony is an evening view of Adelaide, which shows the colour of the sky and the city lights below to show how the lights and colour resonate as if “music is in the air” according to the artist.
Jim Thalassoudis, Light Symphony (2016)
What is intriguing with this series (of which there are 36 prints of each work available to purchase and six complete portfolio sets) is that the artists commissioned were not directed to work in a certain style or focus on a certain feature of the orchestra. “We didn’t want it to be overly prescriptive,” Ciccarello says. “We did want it to be the artists’ response to the ASO, to music making and their connection to music. We didn’t want to constrain them to any narrowly-defined outcome. If you look at James Cochrane’s Melodic Storm, for example, it takes an image of our new principal conductor, Nicolas Carter, a photograph, but it is fed into his own kind of street art approach. He used pages from Wagner’s The Valkyrie as a backdrop. If you look closely, you’ll see the printed score as an underlay to the work. It leaps off the page. You can see, if you look closely, the dot work that forms Nicholas’ face and body are kind of like little people. It’s quite an unusual approach.”
James Cochran, Melodic Storm
Currently on display at Aptos Cruz, the prints will soon be shown at Town Hall as well as the Festival Centre when the ASO holds its 80th anniversary dinner there on Saturday, October 29. “That will be the big event [the gala dinner]. But as I said we are certainly talking of other ways to memorialise the ASO. These series of prints are one but we are talking about a commemorative book. We’d like it to be a bit more substantial than a collection of photographs and memorabilia. We’re hoping to commission some writers to bring a more scholarly approach to it. It’s not there yet. It’s in the planning.” aptoscruz.com.au aso.com.au