Two young artists are at the center of the adventurous “New Work” program the New World Symphony will present April 20. Choreographer Justin Peck, 25, created a pas de deux for Miami City Ballet for the occasion, and Zosha Di Castri, 28, composed a piece the orchestra will premiere.
Rather than a traditional night at the symphony, “New Work” will be a whirlwind tour of the contemporary arts world, with a fresh palette of commissioned dance, poetry, music and video works.
“The inspiration was those evenings like the ones you have in Wynwood or [the New York gallery district] Chelsea, when you know the galleries will all be open and you know it will be all new work in lots of different areas,” says NWS artistic director Michael Tilson Thomas.
The show is another major step for Tilson Thomas and the symphony as they flex the creative possibilities of architect Frank Gehry’s multi-tiered, multimedia-friendly New World Center.
“So many of the things we did in the first two years were about us getting in and getting comfortable,” says Tilson Thomas, who has been an advocate for daring new work throughout his career. “Now we’re really starting to imagine how we can use this wonderful center.”
He has been encouraged by the enthusiastic response to events such as the recent John Cage festival, which incorporated dance, multimedia and environmental pieces with performers ranging throughout the hall. Pulse, the symphony’s popular classical-meets-dance-music series, has added an “unplugged” element, offering acoustic performances of pieces first played in loud, amplified versions.
“So many people wanted to come across and make an evening that is a combination of these experiences,” Tilson Thomas says. “This is a very new direction.”
Numerous firsts will be on display in the April 20th program, which includes composer Ian Dicke’s O Bury Me Not, a poetry reading presented in collaboration with the O, Miami poetry festival, and the premiere of a video work commissioned from Los Angeles artists Tyler Adams and Pascual Sisto to be shown on the “sails” of the concert hall to the strains of minimalist composer Morton Feldman’s Structures for Orchestra.
The centerpieces will be the Di Castri composition and Peck’s new ballet, which marks the first collaboration between Miami City Ballet and New World Symphony, South Florida’s leading classical arts institutions.
Tilson Thomas proposed the idea to MCB Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez when he met her at a reception soon after her appointment was announced a year ago.
“I’ve always wanted very much to do a project with the ballet,” he says. “Dance is one of my favorite mediums. This came up so quickly, but it’s a chance to get our toes in the water.”
Lopez was instantly receptive. “I loved the idea of collaborating,” she says. The project meshes with several of her goals for the troupe: to commission more new ballets, to work with other arts groups in Miami and to attract new audiences to the ballet.
“It’s collaboration at a very high level,” Lopez says. “Michael Tilson Thomas is this iconic musician and major artist. It puts Miami City Ballet and our dancers in a place where maybe the audience members haven’t seen us. And it brings into [MCB] a choreographer … who’s on my five-year artistic plan for the company.”