The artist stands before a blank canvas. At a cue from the lead musician, intense string music fills the studio. As the musicians’ bows fly across the strings of their instruments, the artist’s hands fly across the canvas. Beneath his hand, the dark outline of a man comes into being. Seemingly random swirls emit from the outline of the man, but we soon realize that they create the face and wild hair of Beethoven, the composer of the piece the musicians play.
From classical music to modern art to delicious food, Beethoven 250: Wine and Art combines different forms of art into a celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. The virtual event, a part of violinist Jeff Yang’s artistic project, In the Realm of Senses, aims to provide an engaging artistic experience for all the senses.
In the Realm of Senses Shares an Appreciation for Classical Music
Beethoven 250: Wine and Art centers around the performance of compositions by Beethoven himself and several of his contemporaries. A piece by Chevalier de Saint-Georges, 18th century African-French composer, begins the event. We listen as two violin parts, one high and driving the melody, the other low and stabilizing, complement one another to create the springy yet flowing tune of Duo for Two Violins. The musicians, with expressions of intense concentration on their faces, sway in time with the music, allowing the movement of their bows to move their entire bodies.
A sliver of Beethoven’s personality shines through when one of the musicians chuckles while explaining how the name of the next piece, the Eyeglass Duo, originated: Beethoven used to joke that he and his friends needed to wear eyeglasses in order to play the piece at all. Celloist and violinist deftly pluck at the strings of their instruments while the violist plays the gliding, melancholy melody of the second movement of String Trio, by Hungarian composer Dohnanyi. We watch as the musicians again pick up their bows; the music escalates into rhapsody, like sunshine finally breaking into a room on a cold winter’s day.
Intersection of the Senses
Visual and auditory art meet in the grand finale of Beethoven 250. During the performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet Op.95 “Serioso”, we watch as a visual artist, whose studio is the site of the event, creates a brand-new masterpiece. The artist moves in time with the music, seeming to dance, and the swish of his tool smudging lines becomes a part of the music. He adds color, blending it to create abstract tones, then adds the final touch: a black outline around Beethoven’s face. The music accelerates, then cuts off in an emphatic, final chord. Together, artist and musicians turn to admire the final piece, a product of their arts combined.
With its enrapturing classical music, visually pleasing artistic elements, and recommended at-home food and wine pairings, Beethoven 250 is indeed an experience for all the senses. This reviewer, however, could not help but imagine how the event would be different in the flesh. You may agree that something of the intended multisensory experience is lost, or at least diminished, when the event can be viewed only through a screen. Nonetheless, Beethoven 250: Wine and Art is the perfect event for anyone who appreciates the arts and wants to experience them in a new way.
Musicians and Artists:
Jeff Yang, violin/viola
Mathias Tacke, violin
Dominic Johnson, viola
Nick Photinos, cello
Sergio Gomez, live art
For more information, visit the In the Realm of Senses webpage.
Images of the streamed event were captured by the author, with permission of In the Realm of Senses.
About the Author:
Adriana Moore is an aspiring editor who recently graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy. During college, she worked as a copyeditor for her school’s newspaper. A lover of music, she has sung in choirs throughout her life, most recently Women’s Chorale during college. In her free time, Adriana enjoys reading books, taking her dog on walks, and introducing her youngest sister to the world of Marvel movies.