Each year, the Festival partners with a local artist to produce an original work, which adorns the cover of the Festival's marketing materials and is reproduced on the Festival's annual poster, a popular collectible item for private homes and local businesses. The original work is sold in auction during the Summer Festival, with half of the proceeds going to the artist and half the proceeds going to the Festival.
Glynis Chaffin-Tinglof was selected as the artist for 2017. She created the work "Metamorphosis - What I heard" in December 2016.
From the Artist:
Richard Strauss’ chamber orchestral piece “ Metamorphosen” written for 23 solo strings was completed in 1945 near the end of World War II. Strauss had been experimenting with some of the musical themes found in Metamorphosen, but some historians believe that the catalyst for the completion of this piece of music was the bombing his beloved Opera House.
Strauss had explored the themes of death and transfiguration in an early piece of music known as a tone poem. And since Strauss was known to be “fond of oblique references and multiple layers of meaning and connotation”, there is speculation that Strauss was also heavily influenced by his rereading of the complete works of German author Goethe. Strauss was particularly interested in Goethe’s writings that were concerned with a transformation that occurs, when in his old age, a scholar or artist comes to understand himself and the world around him.
In particular, I was struck by the following lines that Strauss himself wrote about Goethe in 1944.
“For he was a man of eyes- He saw what I heard”
With this opportunity to create the Festival Mozaic Music Festival Poster and Program cover for the 2017 season, I have had the chance to try to bring these words by Strauss to life.
I first conceived of the idea for this type of project after attending a Festival Mozaic concert in 2008. Music director Scott Yoo had included the String Quartet in C minor Op 51 No 1, by Johannes Brahms in the festival program that year. The concert was held at Grace Church in San Luis Obispo.
I left that performance full of emotion and with a newfound curiosity about classical music in general and about Brahm’s compositions specifically. I immediately acquired a recording of this piece and listened to it over and over again, while working in my art studio. Eventually I came to know this piece of music by heart.
Since that time I have wondered how I could translate what I hear in a piece of music into a visual statement. Could I create a painting that could allow the viewer to see what I hear, through the use of paint, brush and canvas? Could I harness the purity of the auditory experience and transport it into a visual experience, without the expectation of a certain outcome and without my inner critic dictating the process of painting what I hear in the music?
When I proposed this idea to Festival executive director Bettina Swigger, she was willing to allow me the chance to find out. I was very excited when she then proposed one of Scott Yoo’s favorite pieces of music for this project, Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen, which will be performed at the final orchestra concert of the Festival Mozaic 2017 Summer Season.
Scott Yoo provided me with an excellent recording of this piece of music performed by the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. Before any drawing began I listened to this piece at least a few dozen times. I spent some time researching Richard Strauss, so I could understand his philosophical outlook and the historical events at play during his lifetime that inspired him to compose this piece.
Overall the tone of the piece is a juxtaposition of somber and hopeful elements. He repeats a theme which quotes bar 3 of the Marcia Funebre from Beetoven’s Eroica Symphony, however he then at bar #82 moves into a wonderful lifting sequence of rising notes played in joyous bursts of overlapping string voices.
When I was ready to begin my painting and before I did any color work, I first drew a structure for the piece using the framework of the lines of the staff. This meant that instead of looking at a blank canvas, I would essentially be confronted with what a composer would be seeing before writing that first note: a blank manuscript .
I then arranged and carefully placed the other important defining structure that dictates this piece: the instruments. These were expressed as circles, the sizes of which denote the instruments Strauss scored for this composition; 3 double basses, 5 cellos, 5 violas, 5 first violins, and 5 second violins.
Once this framework was sketched out, I then began the process of expressing the music I was hearing in bright vivid color, applied with the physical movement dictated by the composition. The color palette I used was Blue-violet/Yellow-Orange & Red/Green. Once I had the color work completed, I went back into the piece with white acrylic ink to begin to define themes within the painting. Toward the end of my process, I had to look closely at the paintings surface to rediscover and further define with dark paint, the structure that was my initial framework of the painting; the lines of the staff and the instruments.
After listening to Metamorphosen countless times during this project, I began to understand that although Strauss composed this piece of music during a time of great turmoil and hardship, I believe that Strauss was inevitably unable or unwilling to stifle his need to find hope, and joy. Perhaps Strauss felt that this was the essence of his own transformation and renewal that Goethe had written about. And it is with this resilience and perseverance that has allowed great cultures and civilizations to find a better path forward… into a new day…into a new era.
Click here to wach a time lapse of the artwork being created, accompanied by Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings.