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Little Match Girl

Feb 08, 2019

This Sunday, February 10, Baltimore Choral Arts will collaborate for the first time with the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) on a project that is sure to be a dynamic and immersive concert experience. The lines between audience and performers blur, digital media is interwoven into the performance, and multiple artistic disciplines are braided together to create a compelling narrative. Our program, entitled Little Match Girl, is rooted in a Pulitzer Prize-winning piece called the little match girl passion by living American composer David Lang. His piece is supported by movement and staging, a movement performer, multiple performance spaces that create different aesthetics, and, of course, brilliant imagery and interactive projections created by MICA art students.

Little Match Girl was conceived last year in a concert I conducted in Washington, D.C. at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, but the idea has been transformed and developed by the faculty and students at MICA in a way I never could have imagined. Going back even further, this concept germinated after I saw a performance of the Rundfunkchor Berlin in which they performed in the East Berlin Radio House, migrating from room to room and inviting the audience to journey through both space and music with them. It left an imprint on my graduate student brain.

The musical content itself has depth enough; David Lang’s piece is created within the framework of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and contains paraphrases of pivotal moments in Bach’s work. This highlights what Lang describes as the “religious and moral equivalency between the suffering of the poor girl and the suffering of Jesus.” To help put mortar between the bricks and hold up a mirror to the passion-style form that Lang utilizes, we have placed chorales and movements from the St. Matthew Passion into Lang’s work. The interspersed pieces serve as reflections and create sturdy Bach scaffolding around the little match girl passion

I hope that this curation of music and visual arts will help you immerse yourself in the art and in the narrative. While many choruses across the country have collaborated with art installations, staging, and movement, I believe that nothing this cross-pollinated has been done by a choral group in some time, if ever. It is my hope that this partnership with artists at MICA will grow and bear fruit for seasons to come. We as artists must always push our art and our concept of its boundaries, and we must strive to strengthen our bonds as artists across all mediums.

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