Yoshi Minegishi loves symphonic music. He also loves building bridges, believing music is a bridge for diverse hearts and souls. On April 15, at Benaroya Hall, the Northwest Sinfonietta will perform Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” with a special multi-media presentation consisting of Asian and Asian American photographs, art and artifacts from our local museums and communities.
Minegishi, the community advisory chair, found in Sinfonietta co-founder and conductor Christophe Chagnard an able partner in creating a three-way collaboration between global Asian artists, Northwest Sinfonietta and the five local Asian American communities. Minegishi found this collaboration a logical step in reflecting the unique cosmopolitan harmony found here in Seattle. Chagnard’s evening program is to include Harvard and Peabody Conservatory trained virtuoso pianist Joel Fan. Fan will delight the audience with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, a suite in ten movements written in 1874 for piano. What makes Pictures particularly interesting musically is Julian Yu’s arrangement.
Yu, as a Beijing Conservatorium trained Australian composer brings to Mussorgsky’s work his Chinese background and musical sensibilities. He builds on Mussorgsky’s ideas to heighten their meaning, adding rich orchestration and special effects, morphing instruments into characters, inserting musical jokes and at one point breaking into fragments of a well-known Chinese melody, “Han Tian Lei”. Yu’s exerts subtle and intentional Chinese influences on the music to delight audiences.
Add to this audio feast is the visual presentation of Asian art, culture and heritage to be shown only in Seattle at the April 15 performance. Mussorgsky wrote the ten movements of Pictures as though an individual is viewing his friend Viktor Hartmann’s posthumous exhibition of 400 paintings. Many of the art works reflected Hartmann’s world wide travels. Chagnard and Minegishi transform this art viewing experience to a journey of Asian and Asian American art, culture and heritage. It starts at the gate of Seattle’s Chinatown International District, meanders through Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese works of art, culture and heritage photographs then moves out into the world as the composition concludes. The images were contributed by local museum and Asian community partners.
Pictures at an Exhibition image contributors in alphabetic order include: the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum, Boeing, Densho, Filipino American National Historical Society, Filipino Community of Seattle, Henry Art Gallery, Japanese Cultural and Community Center, Korean Community, Morning Star, Museum of History and Industry, North American Post, Northwest Asian Weekly, Port of Seattle, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Parks Department Japanese Garden, Seattle Mariners, UW East Asian Library, UW Special Collections, Washington Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and the Wing Luke Museum.
Minegishi, the community advisory chair for Pictures says with a twinkle in his eye “This celebrates the unique harmony we have here. I just want them (the audience) to come to see this special gem.” Chagnard, a French conductor continues his life long exploration of friendship through music having co-founded Sinfonietta in 1991. “We’ve remained faithful to our original vision: to gather musicians who are excellent players with a chamber music philosophy, and create congeniality. And after 20 years … it’s still fresh and stimulating.”
For tickets, contact (866) 833-4747 or order online at www.nwsinfonietta.org. A post concert discussion will be hosted by Chagnard and Minegishi.