RONDO - THE SAPPHO PROJECT - A PERFORMANCE INSTALLATION Presented in Toronto by 5th Species at the Music Gallery on Sunday February 12, 1995
click on the Rondo Banner above for Mary Alton's tour of the performance
A multi disciplinary performance with 6 life sized holograms by Mary Alton and music by Robert W. Stevenson. Text by Sappho, with Performers Fides Krucker, Rick Sacks, Robert W. Stevenson
Rondo is based on the reconstructed life of Sappho.
What is known as Sappho's poetry is as relevant to audiences in the present as in the 6th century B.C. We discover the artistic importance of Sappho as a woman whose work has been first destroyed and then reinterpreted in so many ways. Rondo uses the surviving fragments of poems of Sappho. Sung lyrics, rich in the imagery of light, sound, colour and memory provide a focal point for the interaction of the media of holography and music. We explore the irony of the immortality of the artist.
The seating was been removed from the Music Gallery, and the holograms were placed in circular formation. The audience is free to travel among the holograms as are the performers.
Robert W. Stevenson, clarinetist, composer and conductor, has been an active participant in the creation of contemporary music in Canada for over twenty years. He has received commissions from ensembles such as Hemispheres, The Evergreen Club and Arraymusic. Mr. Stevenson has a long history of collaboration with artists of other disciplines. Most recently he worked with choreographer Bill James and installation artist Mary Lou Lobsinger to create the performance work Flux. Mr. Stevenson's approach is the result of many years of performing and writing for dancers and choreographers, collaborative choreography of sound unique to each performer.
Mary Alton has exhibited her holographic installations internationally, and worked in diverse media including sculpture, multi media & electronic arts. She has works in the Collections of the Art Bank, Goodyear, the Musé des Art Decoratifs Lausanne and a number of private collections.
Fides Krucker is committed to performing the music of living composers, working in a collaborative context and pushing the boundaries of her own creative expression. She has performed internationally, most recently with the Urge collective in Abstract Chains.
Rick Sacks, active freelance percussionist in contemporary music. opera and theatre; performs with ArrayMusic,the Glass Orchestra, the Canadian Opera Company, the Evergreen Club gamelan ensemble. Mr. Sacks' multimedia performance Toy Weather played at the Music Gallery in the Fall of 1994.
Our collaboration began with the use of the surviving fragments of poems of the 6th century B.C. woman Sappho whose sung lyrics, rich in the imagery of light, sound, colour and memory provide a focal point for the interaction of the media of holography and music. The silence created by these fragments leaves room for reflection. What we read and can know about Sappho is connected to what we'll never know and can only surmise. The nature of the language allows for the kind of performance we envision. For it's a fugitive elusive language; as such, it holds a relationship to the holographic image.
To reconstruct a history of women (the history of Sappho) through scraps of text, text that has been censored (through willful destruction of printed materials) fabricated and mistranslated through the centuries, is to project a partially obliterated reconstruction. What remains has strong personal visual references and speaks with a female voice.
The poems we chose to work with allude to the passage of time, age, memories, death, and the immortality of the artist. Considered as a group, several translations of a particular poem of Sappho's illuminate the fluid meanings of language and mythology.
The Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas and Cleone turned into a flock of doves, turned into stars, stars that set before the winter and summer solstice, a harbinger of death and rebirth.
?During Sappho's life time one of the Pleiades disappeared. The absence of the star was explained by the Greeks as a halcyon star, banished from the heavens because she married Sisyphus, a mere mortal.
?The connection between the missing star and Sisyphus' burial place, rarely seen except at the time of the spring and winter solstices; a summons of the fertile season and death.
The 6 holograms mirror the sisters, mezzo soprano Fides Krucker performs the role of the missing sister, musing on the poem fragment: "Although they are only breath, words which I command are immortal."
"The Moon and the Pleiades have set." A holographic image of Rik appears to guide you back.