From a Sad to a Solo Symphony

Last week I wrote about Cristian Mihai’s short story “A Sad, Sad Symphony.”

Thursday night I attended the opening performance of Solo Symphony. It features Peter Bay, the conductor since 1998 of the Austin Symphony Orchestra. This time, instead of conducting with his back to the audience, he faced us, and his movements and directions became a dance.

Has anyone heard of Trash Dance? Choreographer Allison Orr worked with trash collectors and their trucks to create a large scale “dance” on a huge parking lot at night. The workers and their movements; the trucks and their own long arms; turns and pivots. Extraordinary! Allison has also choreographed Venetian gondoliers, firefighters, and Elvis impersonators and highlighting their ordinary jobs as contemporary dance.

So it was no surprise when she watched Peter Bay conduct and saw  his movements as dance. The idea stirred within her: would he work with her to turn his craft into dance? Yes, indeed! In a collaboration with Graham Reynolds, musician, and Peter Bay, conductor, they transformed Bach, Stravinsky, Beethoven and Reynolds, with video by Stephen Pruitt, plus a 13-piece orchestra, we watched Peter Bay conduct. The small Rollins Theater made for a truly personal experience.

Loved it! Last performances today at 3 and 8pm at the Long Center, though it’s probably sold out. Perhaps a video someday?

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