Colorful Classical Concerts

Have you ever wondered what goes on inside a musicians mind? It is a pleasure to introduce award winning Norwegian violinist and Renaissance artist, based in NYC, Ragin Wenk-Wolff!

We hear much talk nowadays about how audiences for classical concerts are getting older, and even claims that classical music is dying. There are discussions about dwindling audiences and theories about why that is. Here is a thought that might be thrown in the mix: as performances have become more and more generalized, as every performer is sounding more like the next, where has the individual sound, the personal voice gone?

A generation or two ago, when we heard Rachmaninoff, Horowitz or Milstein on the radio, we could immediately tell it was them, just like we recognize each other from our individual voices when we talk on the phone. The solution then might be for the performer to truly find their voice, to find an expression that is personal and unique.

Where is the “Normal” Concert and Concert Audience Going?

Today we see an evolution in the practice of giving concerts, classical included, of how they are presented, packaged, and the innovative spaces, surroundings and circumstances they are brought alive in. There is much use of visuals and lighting effects with concerts nowadays. I have developed my own new concept which differs in that it is a personal and direct reaction to the music. In this blog I have been invited to talk about the background to how this came about, and I will get to it.

For me it was only natural to combine my musical and visual arts skills in my own new art form that to me feels the most genuine and honest, the art I can and want to make. In my case, synesthesia comes in and makes it consistent and easier to realize, but as it is such an individual view, literally, of the music, anyone should be able to convert their own inner visual experience of the music into a common, outwardly projected experience for all to share in. In principle, this concept would work for any kind of music, and for a vast number of instruments.

An Inviting Show for New Audiences

Right now, classical concerts are these formal, many would say dated affairs, which can be quite alienating to young people who are not used to it. In this age of social media, where everyone is online, individualism is all it is about. Since my new concept is by no means a regular classical concert, all of the formality, perceived “stiffness” and etiquette falls by the wayside, and gives room for new and fresh interaction about what we share. In my sixty minute show I talk to the audience from the stage, and would not only welcome a dialogue, but did in the past invite the audience to come and meet me in the foyer afterwards. I also surprised them each with a glass of Prosecco or apple juice. This is the way I myself would like to go to a concert; relaxed and interactive, and hopefully a mesmerizing, magical, all immersive, all inclusive experience during the show. This is a concert for anyone of any age, and I truly would like it to transcend any labels or prejudices that exist today about what constitutes “classical” music and become a classic instead.

How I Found My Individual Voice

We can not recreate the era of Rachmaninoff, Horowitz and Milstein, but we can create anew. As an example, here is my own story:
All my life, when I experienced a sound, for instance, be it music, a word or just any sound in my immediate surroundings, it has inevitably always come wrapped in colors, shapes and textures as well. I have always “seen” the music I perform, in colors, shapes, images, dark and light, solid and ethereal, high and low, near and far, hard and soft and so on. During all my early years of performing on stage, I always felt as if I was cheating the audience out of half the experience I myself was having with the music; while I was standing there, immersed in my elaborate world of multiple perceptions, like a dream land, the audience only saw a lone violinist standing there under the spotlight, or even worse, ceiling light, and making sounds. My wish had always been to take the audience with me inside my inner world while I performed. Now, with technology finally having caught up to make it possible, my dream finally came to fruition with the world premiere of my Gesamtkunstwerk Image in my Music at Kilden Performing Arts Centre - www.kilden.com - in Kristiansand, Norway in October 2014.

A Multi Media, Multi Dimensional Show

So what is this so called “Gesamtkunstwerk” Image in my Music, anyway, you might ask. In simple terms, it is a multi-media live stage production created by myself, violinist and visual artist Ragin, performing on my 1689 Stradivarius together with a pianist, immersed in large scale video projections. I carry the audience inside my imagination to experience the synesthesia of colors, shapes, textures and images I see simultaneously in my music. (The word synesthesia essentially means “union of the senses.” ) My own artwork has been combined with photography by Kai-Wilhelm Nessler and film, which I produced together with Virtual Theater Designer Joachim Schamberger.

Here are a few samples:

Documentary interview

Small collection of performances

Ragin Wenk-Wolff, Norwegian Concert Violinist, Visual Artist, Creator of IMAGE IN MY MUSIC, carries on the grand tradition of her teacher and mentor, the great Master Nathan Milstein. She has appeared in major concert halls all over Europe and the United States, including New York, London and Paris, where she simultaneously had an art exhibit. Ragin has premiered and recorded a number of important violin concertos and solo works that were written for and dedicated to her by renowned Norwegian composers such as Johan Kvandal, Ragnar Söderlind, Knut Nystedt and Robert Rønnes, and recorded Iver Holter´s violin concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. The premiere of her new show IMAGE IN MY MUSIC took place in October 2014. Follow Ragin on HELLO STAGE and her website www.ragin.no/
Author: Ragin Wenk-Wolff / edited by Nina HELLO STAGE
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