Colorful Classical Concerts
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
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 -
- 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:
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
and her website www.ragin.no/