Westwater Arts: Our National Parks

KeyBank Pops

Stranahan Theater

May 13, 2017

Toledo Symphony Box Office

Concert Time: 8:00 pm

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In this one-of-a-kind symphonic event, sweeping photographic vistas of America's vast wilderness and awesome mountain ranges accompany stirring orchestral music in what multimedia artist Nicholas Bardonnay calls "symphonic photochoreograpghy."

The TSO will perform visual concertos of "National Park Suite" to mark the centennial of the National Parks system and "Rodeo!" to provide an action-packed view of a rodeo as the contestants see it.


Nicholas Bardonnay

Nicholas Bardonnay is a photographer, multimedia artist, and the Creative Director & CEO of Westwater Arts. Since 2009, Nicholas has worked on more than 70 concerts with orchestras in Dallas, Cincinnati, Tucson, Boulder, Omaha, Glasgow, Liverpool, Singapore, Toronto and other diverse communities. He has photographed, produced and performed over a dozen photochoreography pieces. His first concert piece, Pacifica, blends his photography from the atmospheric coastal Pacific Northwest with six music options by Mahler, Debussy, Górecki, Sibelius, Liadov and Satie. With Copland’s music in mind for his next piece, Rodeo!, he photographed a lively pickup rodeo under the vast skies of northern Arizona.

More recently, he used archival images to produce two companion pieces, No Man’s Land and Citizen Soldier, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I and the 75th anniversary of World War II. He choreographed them to poignant music options by Copland, Vaughan Williams, Barber and Shostakovich, and both pieces premiered in 2014. For another project, Nicholas spent two months camping across Iceland while photographing its sublime landscapes for Sagaland, which he set to four music options by Vaughan Williams, Sibelius, Pärt and Hovhaness. Sagaland premiered in 2016.

Nicholas has also produced a number of commissioned concert pieces. Highlights include Grand Canyon Country, a piece created for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and The Phoenix Symphony to celebrate Arizona’s state centennial; a 50th anniversary tribute for the Britt Music Festival in Oregon; and extensive photography across the Czech Republic for Czech Journeys, which is set to the complete Má vlast and was commissioned by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The London Photographic Association as well as galleries in Los Angeles, Portland, Hong Kong and other cities have exhibited Nicholas’s photography. He has lived in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and he has an interdisciplinary degree in Visual Arts and Social Sciences from The Evergreen State College. Nicholas and his wife and colleague Erin are based in California. In 2014, they spent a year traveling across central and southern Mexico while Nicholas photographed for an upcoming production, titled Mágico.

His most recent project is National Park Suite. The new concert piece commemorates the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service and premieres this summer at Wolf Trap with the National Symphony Orchestra.

For more information, please visit WestwaterArts.com.

Creative Process

Nicholas is both a photographer and a multimedia artist. He creates new visual concertos by starting with either a concept or a work of classical music, then pairing one with the other. Most often, he researches and travels to distinctive places in order to photograph a new body of work for a concert piece; for historical pieces, he gathers the best available photography from many digital archives. Then he uses his favorite recording of the music, along with various software, to edit and choreograph a finished piece. Often Nicholas will create several variations of a piece that are set to different works of music.

This synthesis comes alive through his collaborations with orchestras worldwide. During concerts, Nicholas uses multiple digital projectors to fill a 440-square-foot panoramic screen flown above the orchestra. He closely follows the conductor’s performance, live-cuing hundreds of image transitions from memory.



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