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Symphony Pairs Mussorgsky with Animation

‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ Gets a New Look

<em>Pictures at an Exhibition</em>
Courtesy Photo

Few classical compositions have achieved the crossover success of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Originally written for solo piano, this breathtaking experiment in descriptive music has reached the ears of millions through a series of orchestrations by artists ranging from Maurice Ravel to Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Inspired by the unexpected death of Mussorgsky’s close friend, the painter Viktor Hartmann, the work famously leads listeners on a journey through a gallery containing 10 distinct pictures. The musical passages describing the artworks are punctuated by a “promenade” motif, the melody of which has become one of the most recognizable tunes in history.

<em>Pictures at an Exhibition</em>
Courtesy Photo

This weekend, the Santa Barbara Symphony will team up with a group of talented artists from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts to present Pictures at an Exhibition as the accompaniment to a series of spectacular animations. Taking advantage of the Granada’s giant rear projection screen and state-of-the-art technology for synching live musicians to recorded moving images, the program features a dazzling array of recent developments in animation science. For fans of Disney’s Fantasia, or for anyone interested in the latest in multimedia expression, this should be a real treat.

In addition, the symphony will perform two splendid works by Johannes Brahms — his Tragic Overture and the Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. The soloists on the latter will be two of the orchestra’s own principal musicians, the violinist Jessica Guideri and the cellist Trevor Handy. Whether you go for the chance to hear our hometown heroes or to let your mind run wild through an imaginary animated museum, this unusual concert is sure to transport you to places you’ve never been before.

Performances are Saturday, January 19, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, January 20, at 3 p.m. See thesymphony.org or call 899-2222.

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