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Commentary Detail

Collaborations Between Arts Organizations
Commentary by: Nancy Kranzberg
Aired March 04, 2011

Many of our regional arts organizations are working hard to offer vast and unusual collaborations to not only to increase the size of their audience, but to increase the diversity of the audience as well.

Fred Bronstein has done both since his arrival in St Louis as the CEO and president of the St Louis Symphony. His innovative programming has been inspiring. Just before last Halloween, the orchestra showed the Alfred Hitchcock 's classic film “Psycho” and played the score live. The symphony also recently teamed up with Circus Flora at Powell Hall to present "The Floating Palace", which marked Circus Flora's 25th anniversary. The show takes its name from a riverboat that toured the Mississippi River in the 1850's, and is the first collaboration between the circus and the St Louis Symphony. What a great success it was!

The St Louis Shape Note Singers usually don't do public performances, but just get together and sing selections from "The Sacred Harp" and the "Missouri Harmony" songbooks, according to member Gary Gronau, who has been with the group since its inception. The members sing for their own pleasure, but recently an exception was made. Daniel Durchholz wrote in the Post Dispatch, "The singers are making an exception at the request of visual artist Ann Hamilton, whose installation "stylus" has incorporated music in both conventional and unconventional ways since its opening at the Pulitzer Foundation last summer." The article goes on to say that Hamilton is a fan of shape note singing, and Gronau and other members of the group are very interested in visual arts. Once the parties got together to discuss the particulars, the Shape Note Singers were one of the groups tapped to activate the piece. This is just another example of a great collaboration in the arts.

Some years ago Rich O'Donnell, the now retired Principal Percussionist of the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, wrote a musical score to accompany the burning and dripping ice and wood sculpture created by artist George Grennemyer for the winter solstice at Laumeier Sculpture Park. We all shivered in our boots, but were thrilled by the energy created by this multi-disciplined piece.

"HEARding Cats Collective" a newly formed new music group, just last year presented 14 separate performances, involving more than 100 individual artists, some of whom hailed from Europe and Asia, as well as the deep pool of talent in St Louis. The group, drawn from multiple genres in music, dance, and cinema, have presented original films and soundtracks from Thai directors and composers. Their 60 by 60 production at the Sheldon combined 60 composers with more than 80 choreographers and dancers for a performance that was broadcast on HEC-TV. Talk about collaborations!

The Missouri Botanical Garden is also known for collaborating with visual artists - most recently with Dale Chihuly and the enormous ceramic pieces by Nikki de Saint Phalle. Next month, thanks to the generosity of the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, the Garden Symphony will be presented. It is a project to honor Peter Raven, the Director Emeritus of the garden. Five composers from the Mizzou New Music Initiative will each write a movement including one on the Japanese Garden, Woodland Garden, Children's Garden, Climatron, and a special Peter Raven piece.

Opera Theatre of St Louis and Jazz St Louis are now working together. Terence Blanchard, the brilliant jazz trumpeter and composer, is writing a jazz opera to be performed by Opera Theatre.

Congratulations to all the artists, arts institutions and art groups that are working so hard together to bring us all together for wonderful new experiences and helping us to broaden our horizons. Sometimes we think we know what we like, but actually only like what we know.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Nancy Kranzberg

Nancy Kranzberg

Arts Aficionado Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for some thirty years. She serves on numerous arts affiliated boards, including The St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park where she is the Co-Chair, The Sheldon Arts Foundation and the Sheldon Art Gallery Board, Jazz at the Bistro, The Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., The Mid American Arts Alliance, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Nancy was named Women of Achievement and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnae Award at Washington University Nancy is a docent at the St. Louis Art Museum and is an honorary docent at Laumeier Sculpture Park. At age 60 she became a Jazz singer. She performs with the Second Half which features Chancellor Tom George on the piano.

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