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Vancouver Island Symphony seeking art inspired by music inspired by art

VIS to hold exhibition by Island artists based on Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’
The Vancouver Island Symphony will perform Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s suite ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ this coming April. (Photo courtesy Heydemann Art of Photography)

The Vancouver Island Symphony is appealing to Island artists to help put together an art exhibition inspired by a piece of classical music inspired by an art exhibition.

In April the VIS is performing Pictures at an Exhibition by 19th-century Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. It’s a suite of 10 pieces inspired by an exhibition of paintings by a friend of the composer. Along with the performance, the VIS is also presenting a documentary, an education series and an art exhibition, all under the name the Pictures Project.

Vancouver Island artists have until Jan. 16 to listen to recordings of Pictures at an Exhibition and submit two-dimensional works inspired by the 10 movements. A panel of jurors will select the 10 works they feel best represent the pieces to be displayed throughout April and shown during the concert. The jury’s favourite artist wins a $1,000 prize and the nine other finalists get $300 each.

VIS development officer Rebecca Woytiuk is overseeing the call for entries. She said what makes the VIS distinct is that many of its members live outside of Nanaimo and must travel to the Island or across the Island each month to perform. She therefore suggested that the landscape could be a source of inspiration as well.

“If you’re a Vancouver Island artist you maybe look out your window every day and think, ‘This is an inspirational subject,’” she said. “So as you listen to the music, as you look outside your window, enjoy the weather, whatever it is, how does living on Vancouver Island influence the art that you make?”

Woytiuk said she hopes the Pictures Project introduces people to symphonic music and helps them develop an appreciation for it through repeat listening. She said people listen to pieces they recognize because “they’re layered and they’re complex and you don’t get all the enjoyment out of it the first time you listen to it.”

“If you’re going to sit there and listen to something over and over again, then you start to hear the instrumentation, you start to hear the nuances, you start to hear the complexity of that music,” Woytiuk said. “And if you’re just sitting there studying it in order to be inspired by it, then every time you listen to it you get a deeper experience of that music.”

For more information and to submit, click here.

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