« 30 musicians recorded 90 voices to perform Stravinsky’s Sacrificial Dance ».

The Ensemble Symphonique Neuchâtel (ESN) under its artistic director Victorien Vanoosten and Swiss visual artists Supermafia have combined musical performance and cutting-edge light design for a unique video project featuring Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.

As the pandemic lead to worldwide restrictions for the gathering of even the smallest groups of people since 2020, often making physical meetings of orchestra musicians impossible, ESN Artistic Director Victorien Vanoosten and 34 musicians of the orchestra met virtually to perform the Sacred Dance from Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps. But how did they do it? In collaboration with Swiss visual artists Supermafia, who created and directed the stunning visual design and sound-to-light technology, conductor Victorien Vanoosten and each of the orchestra musicians were filmed separately, each sound recorded separately. Each musician recorded his part inside a purpose-built light box – alone with the music and the image of the conductor in front of them. No individual performances were copied and pasted but, instead, musicians of the relevant orchestra sections returned to the light box sometimes as often as five times, in order to record up to five different instrumental lines. They did so in order to meet Stravinsky’s original requirements for the number of strings and wind instruments, as the composer had intended the piece for 91 musicians – as they now appear in the final composition of the sound and image files: The Isolated Ensemble.
Movie direction / Visual art direction: Supermafia
Igor Stravinsky: Sacrificial Dance, from The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps)
Victorien Vanoosten, conductor
Ensemble Symphonique Neuchâtel (ESN)
Recorded at Case à Chocs, Neuchâtel, Switzerland, November 2020
Sound: Richard Kuster
© Ensemble Symphonique Neuchâtel
With the support of: Loterie Romande, État de Neuchâtel, Ville de Neuchâtel, Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds, Fondation philanthropique de la Famille Sandoz, Banque Cantonale Neuchâteloise.
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