“I am haunted by waters.”
Those words of Norman Maclean’s, from A River Runs Through It, have been haunting us; we’ve been thinking about, hearing, literally and figuratively swimming in water lately, in ways that all, through one channel or another, lead back to WCM.
In recent days this water-consciousness has centered on the next phase of our project around the marvelous Zuber wall panels in the Livingston Manor school. The school is, of course, one of the more resplendent gems from the WPA building boom of the late 1930’s. But beyond its noble and elegant neo-Georgian exterior, the building boasts an entryway made strange and magical by a 360 degree set of wall panels by Zuber, the great Paris-based workshop whose creations are to most wallpaper as Mozart is to Dittersdorf. One of only a handful of Zubers in the country, the panels depict an empyrean pastoral scene in which free, prosperous African-Americans enjoy, side-by-side with their Euro-American counterparts, the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley.
The images are dominated both by this seemingly idealized, but in fact quite accurate, view of 18th-century American life, and by the omnipresence of water. Zuber I, mounted in collaboration with the School and the Catskill Arts Society, focused on issues of race. Zuber II, called WaterMusic, will be all about water: whence it comes; how it’s used; and where it’s likely to go if we don’t take care of it. Once again we’ll work with CAS and the School to produce new work, musical and visual (much of it by Livingston Manor students), as well as curate an international exhibition of new pieces in a variety of media, all made in response to the Zuber panels. It’s a very cool thing.
This has us thinking back to a wonderful summer, to our first as artistic directors, to the festival and the innumerable eddies and currents that it represented: Bach flowing into Stravinsky; Bach and Stravinsky flowing into Harbison; the endless river of friendships that brought festival artists new and old together in beautiful, memorable performances; the flow of years that has brought the festival to the ripe young age of 20; the river of life that has, as it must, this year carried away a number of our dearest friends and supporters; and, of course, the hydropower of Judith Pearce’s 20-year run as founding director, and her transition to board president. The river keeps on running…
WaterMusic is, in a way, the catch-all title for everything we do as musicians. In the way that watching the waves crash or a creek flow past seems to pull us deep into and, at the same time, far outside of ourselves, so music, rushing past and through us, so very much here and yet everywhere at once, has the same wonderful power. Its unity of time and motion makes us keenly aware of our own motion through life, and the sadness of this is counterbalanced by the joy of action, of running the rapids, and by the deep sense of continuity that plunging into this river brings: reach back a little and find Stravinsky, Duke Ellington, Debussy; reach back further and there’s Bach; a little further still and there are Monteverdi, Lasso, Josquin, and Hildegard of Bingen. In music, as in memory, the river of time moves in multiple directions.
This concert season, culminating in next summer’s festival, will continue the flow. Brahms, Dowland, Mendelssohn, improvisation, as well our next guest composer Shulamit Ran, all are part of the onrushing of WCM’s present and future. Keep in touch with us to find out what else the year will bring. And thank you, now and forever, for your love and support of WCM.