Orchestra to salute the 100th anniversary of America’s 59 national parks
Published Thursday, May 11, 2017
by GEOFF BURNS | BLADE STAFF WRITER
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but neglect to mention that some images can leave you speechless.
When panoramic mountains, desert landscapes, and urban parks are projected onto screens behind symphonic musicians, a more intriguing question arises: What range of emotions can portraits of nature evoke?
“It should be touching,” said Nicholas Bardonnay, photographer, multimedia artist, and creative director and CEO of Westwater Arts.
Bardonnay will team with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra on Saturday to salute the 100th anniversary of America’s 59 national parks. Westwater Arts is bringing along two photographic packages: National Parks Suite, which highlights the enduring beauty of those landscapes, and Rodeo!, which gives the audience an action-packed glimpse of an authentic rodeo.
In 1973, James Westwater started what would come to be known as symphonic photochoreography with an initial performance by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Fast forward to 2009 when Bardonnay became of a part of the company, which by then had advanced the technique of blending visual technology and live symphonies.
The company’s visual choreography has been performed with more than 180 orchestras across the United States and other countries, and this weekend’s show at the Stranahan Theater continues the tradition with a local twist: captivating portraits of Toledo’s 14 Metroparks.
National Parks Suite features images from Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Grand Smoky Mountains, and dozens of other national parks and monuments in the United States.
Even out in the field shooting these photographs, Bardonnay said he constantly keeps music in mind to capture the authenticity surrounding a landscape.
“I try to listen to the mood and character and the pacing of the music and see what that inspires, the emotional journey through that,” he said.
Rodeo! includes portraits of riders getting airborne on horses, children practicing rope techniques, and country dancing.
“It’s painting a picture of that wide open lifestyle those people experience,” he said, adding the images were captured outside a small town in Arizona. “It provides that human element and a bit of humor, too.”
The concert also promises images from more than 20 local photographers. Of the 1,500 images submitted, 120 were chosen for the show.
Bardonnay said the local photos chosen highlight the best of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, which he referred to as the “Sacred Places” part of the concert.
“You have this great park system in Toledo, and it’s significant to the residents who live there,” he said. “[The photos show] you have something right in your backyard. It’s a matter of sharing my perspective as well as listening to other people’s perspectives.”
Sara Jobin, resident conductor for the orchestra, will conduct the concert. Not everything will be visual, she said; the orchestra will perform several pieces by itself.
Still, “it’s appreciating our national treasures,” the maestro said. “It’s great that [Toledo] has its own Metroparks, which are increasing, developing, and preserving, and we want to celebrate that, here, locally.”
Tickets cost $26 to $66 and can be purchased at toledosymphony.com. The concert starts at 8 p.m.
“What we’re doing in Toledo takes a lot of manpower and I really enjoy these interactions we have together,” Nicholas Bardonnay said. “I enjoy interacting with the audience. It’s a way to inspire and to share a part of myself and become interested in what they’re all about and learn about places they love.
“I’ve never been to Toledo and it’s exciting for me to go there and have people experience this.”