SOST’s ‘Symphony for our World’ combines music with visuals

The Symphony of Southeast Texas will present “Symphony for our World,” 7:30 p.m., Oct. 30, in the Julie Rogers Theatre. The National Geographic event will feature live music specifically composed by Bleeding Fingers Music to accompany high-definition visuals. 

Conductor Chelsea Tipton II said the 90-minute concert is broken into five sections — the sea, the coastlines, the land, the mountains and, finally, the sky.  

“Music is not only a sonic experience, but it’s also a visual one,” Tipton said. “One reason we go to orchestra concerts is not only to hear the music, but also to see the orchestra with the bows going the same directions, the energy, the movement of the orchestra. Well, this is 10 times 10, because we’re going to have high-definition visuals over the top of the orchestra.” 

Tipton and the orchestra will wear earpieces through which they will hear a click track which allows them to line up the different climaxes in the music with what is seen on the screen. 

“Musically speaking, our role is to serve the visual component,” Tipton said. “Typically, when you come to a musical concert, it’s the music that creates the emotional impact. But in this case, our role is to serve the emotional impact of what is happening on the screen. So, it’s very different.” 

Tipton said a symphony concert is normally a conversation between conductor and orchestra, but in this case, there is not room for that organic interaction, which has been an interesting challenge, he said. 

“Music is emotion, music has movement,” he said. “But the National Geographic, I have to look at this more as an analytical approach to the music. Good quality music is good quality music — it just has a different type of role (for) me as a conductor.” 

Bleeding Fingers Music is a collective co-founded by Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer (“Lion King,” “Dunkirk,” “Pirates of the Caribbean”). First performed in 2018, “Symphony For Our World” has been revamped and this concert will feature an updated score and visuals. 

“(It is) just beautiful, glorious music that ties together both the acoustical properties of the orchestra, but also is going to be mixed with electronic sounds and sounds that will be added from the film itself,” Tipton said.  

With the visuals and the music so closely intertwined, Tipton said when he first saw the reference video, it only had the click track, which was interesting, but it took a moment to appreciate the impact of the piece.   

 “Then I watched it another way with just the music and that was beautiful,” he said. 

Incorporating technology into the symphony concert has become more prevalent as a result of COVID-19, with many orchestras, including SOST, streaming concerts. 

“I think arts organizations have to evolve with the times,” Tipton said. “I don’t think it’s so bad. You don’t want to be just mired in the tradition of having an overture, a concerto, intermission, and then the symphony at the end of the concert. We’re trying to evolve the art form into something that has traditions connected to past traditions, but also what’s going on around us now.” 

Tipton said there are two things for audiences to connect with. One, is our planet, and the importance of preserving our planet. And then the art, which is music. 

“And how the two can be brought together and to give our audience a unique experience, because that’s what we’re selling,” he said. “We’re not selling an iPad, or a cup of coffee that you can take home with you. You’re coming in with this, and you’re leaving with the same thing you came in with. But, hopefully, you will have had a transformative experience in some way — an emotional experience. 

“I won’t say, ‘Have a good concert.’ I say, ‘Have an impactful concert.’ And that’s what this is.” 

For information on SOST’s concerts, visit www.sost.org, or call 409-892-2257. 

This story first ran in the Oct. 22 Art of Living section of The Beaumont Enterprise.

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