On Oct. 13, Park City artist Josee Nadeau will paint onstage at Libby Gardner Hall inspired by the orchestral music of Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Purcell and Bach.
But it is a rock ‘n’ roll icon who first inspired her to blend her love of music with visual art.
In 2000, Nadeau found herself at a party at the private residence of the founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberte, with George Harrison in attendance. Both Harrison and Nadeau were entranced with one another, and Nadeau found herself being serenaded by the former Beatle for four hours. They parted after the party, never to see another again, but Nadeau was so giddy from the experience that the day after the impromptu concert, she created a gorgeous painting of water lilies in a French garden.
"I became his muse," Nadeau said, and in turn, he became her muse.
Twelve years later, Nadeau will demonstrate her personal, responsive connection to music as she will "live paint" accompanied by the Salt Lake Symphony in a unique amalgamation of two disciplines.
Proceeds from the concert, as well as proceeds from the to-be auctioned paintings, will be donated to Mohammed Sbia, head of Zahra Charity , a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of the science of neuro-rehabilitation and creating access to world-class neuro-rehabilitative care in Morocco and Utah.
The Salt Lake Symphony, conducted by Maestro Robert Baldwin, will perform four compositions:
• Rimsky-Korsakov’s "Russian Easter Overture"
• Stokowski’s arrangement of J.S. Bach’s "Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor"
• Purcell’s "Chacony for Strings in G Minor"
• Respighi’s "Roman Festivals"
Standing onstage will be Nadeau and two 8-foot-by-10-foot blank canvases, and on a screen projected above the orchestra, the audience will be able to enjoy the music along with Nadeau’s brush strokes.
"It’s a dance, it’s so beautiful," Nadeau said. "With a blank canvas, you’re like a composer, pulling it in every direction." While she is familiar with the compositions, Nadeau will have no pre-conceived notions of what her two paintings will be like. She is trusting that the music will inspire her, in the moment.
This isn’t the globe-trotting Nadeau’s first "live painting" experience, but it will be her first time with an orchestra; in the past, she has painted accompanied by chamber quartets as well as human-rights speeches by Harry Belafonte, as well in front of audiences that recently included the Royal Family of Serbia in New York City.
The 94 orchestra members will dwarf the quartets and 12-member ensembles that usually accompany Nadeau’s live painting experiences.
Nadeau, 49, was born in Montreal, and was a protégée of Gerald Van der Camp, the esteemed French art expert and curator-in-chief of both Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles and Claude Monet’s personal gardens in Giverney, northwest of Paris where Nadeau was artist-in-residence. (Besides curating some of the world’s most treasured residences. Van der Kemp gained fame for being the man who saved the "Mona Lisa" from the Louvre from the invading Nazis during World War II.) While in France, Nadeau created impressionistic paintings of gardens, interiors of Paris cafes and a series of paintings of windows of the world.
She moved to Park City to raise her two sons with close proximity to another love and muse — the ski slopes.
Baldwin programmed the evening at the beginning of the calendar year, with Nadeau only becoming involved relatively recently, but Baldwin — in his seventh season as music director for the Salt Lake Symphony, as well as director of orchestral activities at the University of Utah — said the "colorful" program is a great fit for the night.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s "Russian Easter Overture," followed by Stokowski’s arrangement of Bach’s composition, are filled with orchestral color, Baldwin said. In fact, Stokowski’s inspired use of the orchestral instruments was influenced by the "impressionist composers," namely Respighi, he said.
"Respighi was quite influenced by Monet," Baldwin said. "They used color in a different way."
In Purcell’s "Chacony for Strings in G Minor," the English composer vividly stretches the boundaries of traditional dance music in the 17th century. Respighi’s final tone poem of his Roman trilogy, "Roman Festivals" sonically depicts ancient Rome, including gladiators battling to the death, Christian martyrs and pilgrims, and the harvest (including a drunken reveler represented by a tenor trombone).
"Beethoven and Brahms wouldn’t work on this program," Baldwin said.
For her part, Nadeau is not intimidated by inviting the audience to watch her create two atmospheric works of art; the communion with the music will isolate her in a different world during the program. But she still recognizes the seemingly incongruity of what he is doing.
"It’s pretty gutsy to get onstage with a symphony orchestra," Nadeau said.
"Sound & Light"
Salt Lake Symphony with Josee Nadeau
When • Saturday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.
Where • Libby Gardner Hall, University of Utah, 1375 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City
Tickets •$45 for preferred, $25 for general admission, $15 for students, at kingtix.com, zahracharity.org. or by calling 801-807-4563; VIP seating is also available for $100, and includes reserved parking, and catered receptions before and after the concert
Info • Nadeau will paint as symphony orchestra performs; proceeds benefitting neuro-rehabilitation patients in Utah and Morocco
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