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The New Lights Initiative

Over the past decade, the University of Maryland School of Music has become increasingly renowned for its inventive programming.
The New Lights initiative was spearheaded in 2009 to explore ways of making classical music more relevant and impactful for modern audiences. New Lights questions what encourages or discourages people from enjoying a classical concert, and calls upon students and faculty to envision and build the kind of musical life they would want to inhabit.
The inquisitive and fearless spirit of the New Lights initiative comes to life in the UMD concert experience, where unconventional performance practices, technology and other artistic disciplines are incorporated into programming - a celebration of the past and the future.

New Lights Performance Highlights:

  • Benjamin Britten's Les Illuminations: Based on a suite of prose poems by French poet Arthur Rimbaud, Les Illuminations conveys a general process of growth and discovery. For this performance, designers Doug Fitch and Tim McLoraine designed projections to convey the surreal worlds suggested in each of Rimbaud's poems.

  • Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin, performed with projection design by Tim McLoraine to convey the story of Miraculous Mandarin
  • Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony: Russian poetry from the same period was chosen and recited by orchestra members as preludes to each movement.
  • Benjamin Britten's "Four Sea Interludes" from Peter Grimes: Included lighting designed by artist Douglas Fitch and Lyn Godley to evoke the landscape of the sea.
  • A performance Shostakovich 13th Symphony, Babi Yar, with the great Russian dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko narrating.
  • Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique: Included narration based entirely on the words of the composer.
  • Composer John Adams' Chairman Dances performed with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, which interwove dancers and orchestral players on the concert stage.
  • The Petrushka Project: Douglas Fitch returns to the School of Music to produce a multi-dimensional setting of Stravinsky's Petrushka involving puppetry, live videography, choreography of the orchestra itself, and costumes evoking a Russian street fair in wintertime.
  • Movement and Music: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Debussy's "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun" from memory, with movement design by choreographer Liz Lerman.



New Lights Video Blogs

University of Maryland Wind Orchestra (UMWO): Apotheosis of This Earth | 11.3.11

Program Notes from Karel HusaDave on StravinskyWhy Does It Sound Like That?

UMSO: Last Waltz | Tchaikovsky, Takemitsu, Ravel and Shostakovich | 10.28.11

Thoughts From Musicians

A Rehearsal in the Life of UMSO

Thoughts From Conductors