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Josee Nadeau's art and Salt Lake Symphony combine for one colorful evening

Published October 9, 2012 10:33 am

Music • Josee Nadeau will paint two pieces live during a Salt Lake Symphony concert.
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Two art forms combine this week, when Park City artist Josee Nadeau "live paints" on the Libby Gardner Hall stage, while the Salt Lake Symphony performs.

The orchestral works of Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Purcell and Bach will inspire Nadeau during the Oct. 13 event.

But initially, it was a rock 'n' roll icon who moved her to blend art with music.

In 2000, Nadeau found herself at a private party at the residence of Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil. Former Beatle George Harrison was in attendance. The two met and were instantly connected, she said, with Harrison even serenading her. The next day, Nadeau said she received a "beautiful message" from Harrison on her answering machine, a message that she has kept.

Nadeau said she was so "creatively seduced" by Harrison's impromptu concert and the subsequent message, that she created a gorgeous painting of water lilies in a French garden.

"I became his muse," Nadeau said, and in turn, he became hers.

Twelve years later, Nadeau will demonstrate her connection art and music as she "live paints" with the Salt Lake Symphony — a unique amalgamation of two disciplines.

Proceeds from the concert and the two paintings she creates will be donated to Mohammed Sbia, head of Zahra Charity. The nonprofit provides access to neuro-rehabilitation research and care in Morocco and Utah.

For the show, The Salt Lake Symphony, conducted by Robert Baldwin, will perform four compositions: Rimsky-Korsakov's "Russian Easter Overture," Leopold Stokowski's arrangement of Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, Purcell's Chacony for Strings in G Minor and Respighi's "Roman Festivals."

Standing onstage will be Nadeau and two 8-by-8-foot blank canvases. On a screen, projected above the orchestra, the audience will be able to enjoy Nadeau's brush strokes along with the music.

"It's a dance, it's so beautiful," Nadeau said during a recent interview. "With a blank canvas, you're like a composer, pulling it in every direction." While she is familiar with the compositions to be played, Nadeau said she has no preconceived notions of what her two paintings will be like. She is trusting that the music will inspire her, in the moment.

This isn't Nadeau's first "live painting" experience, but it will be her first time with a 94-member orchestra. In the past, she has been accompanied by smaller chamber quartets and ensembles. She has even painted during a human-rights speech by Harry Belafonte in New York City, in front of an audience that included the Royal Family of Serbia

Nadeau, 49, was born in Montreal, and was a protégée of Gerald Van der Kemp, French art expert and curator-in-chief of Louis XIV's palace at Versailles. Nadeau was an artist-in-residence at the palace, which is northwest of Paris and home to Claude Monet's personal gardens in Giverney.

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 and to be close to another love and muse — the ski slopes.

The Salt Lake Symphony programmed the evening at the beginning of the calendar year, with Nadeau becoming involved relatively recently. Baldwin — in his seventh season as music director — said the "colorful" program is a great fit for the night as "Russian Easter Overture," as well as the Bach's composition, are filled with orchestral color.

In fact, he said, Stokowski's use of the orchestral instruments was influenced by the "impressionist composers," namely Respighi,

"Respighi was quite influenced by Monet," Baldwin said. "They used color in a different way."

"Roman Festivals," — the final tone poem of Respighi's Roman trilogy — 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 having an audience watch her create. She said the music will isolate her and make her feel as if she is in a different world during the program. However, she does recognize the pressure.

"It's pretty gutsy to get onstage with a symphony orchestra," she said.

dburger@sltrib.com

'Sound & Light'

The Salt Lake Symphony collaborates with Josee Nadeau, who will paint as the orchestra performs; Robert Baldwin conducts.

When • Saturday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m.

Where • Libby Gardner Concert 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. Proceeds will benefit neuro-rehabilitation patients in Utah and Morocco.