Art, music create fairy-tale world for Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose’

Art, music create fairy-tale world for Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose’

This weekend The Florida Orchestra will present its fourth multimedia collaboration with Visual Artist-in-residence Geff Strik, featuring original artwork inspired by the youthful innocence of Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet.

Despite its title, the roughly 30-minute piece is actually based on various nursery rhymes and stories Maurice Ravel shared with children – perfect inspiration for painting. While Music Director Michael Francis conducts the orchestra live on stage, Strik’s art will fill the big screen for a whimsical journey through the short movements: Prelude, The Spinning Wheel, Sleeping Beauty, Conversations of Beauty and the Beast, Tom Thumb, Empress of the Pagodas and The Fairy Garden.

For Strik, his art is not about telling a story literally, but rather what he imagines as he hears Ravel’s music. “I start with a blank canvas, and inspired by the music, I add a splash of watercolor. Then I put on more and more glaze to add structure until I get the image I want,” Strik said. “When I go to the next picture, I will ‘wash’ away everything, because that is the only way to pass from one story to another.”

Strik uses only one 10-by-5-foot canvas, painting each scene on top of the other, the earlier works hidden underneath. The whole process is captured through photos and carefully crafted into a high-definition art montage synchronized to the music.

The result is a visually stunning concert that audiences can see only with The Florida Orchestra this weekend live at the Mahaffey Theater and – for the first time – live streamed at FloridaOrchestra.org.

The collaboration is an ambitious project anytime, but especially during the coronavirus pandemic, which has been particularly hard on arts organizations.

“The Florida Orchestra has been determined to do more – not less – during the pandemic because we know how much our community needs music as a haven,” said Mark Cantrell, TFO President & CEO. “For 30 minutes, this work will take us away to a whimsical world created by art and music. Who doesn’t need that right now?”

The art project was created locally, with support from the community. It was produced by Siècle des Lumières, LLC, with Executive Producer Phil Yost. Image editing by Ken Park, president of Oktane Media. It is supported by Compass Land and Title, Oktane Media, Central Cigars and Hiram & Solomon Cigars. Strik is represented by Black Tea Music.

This project is TFO’s fourth collaboration with Geff Strik, an internationally acclaimed French artist who has made St. Petersburg his home since 2004. Previous projects with TFO include Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night (Verklarte Nacht), Strauss’ Don Quixote and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.

Also on this weekend’s program is Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, featuring Natasha Paremski on piano, and Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst. All conducted by Maestro Francis. (For an interview with Natasha Paremski, click here.)