Under the leadership of James Ross, the UMD Symphony Orchestra (UMSO) continually searches for new ways to vitalize the classical music concert experience for both its musicians and audience members. One of these notable performances include Project Petrushka, a multimedia performance of Stavinsky's Petrushka with set design, video and puppetry by designer Doug Fitch that was premiered in 2008. Project Petrushka was readapted for the New York Philharmonic in 2013 with the title A Dancer's Dream. In 2012, UMSO performed Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun from memory with movement design by choreographer Liz Lerman. Coined the "New Lights Initiative", this progressive approach to orchestral performance has earned UMSO the reputation of a trailblazer in 21st-century world of classical music.
This past March, UMSO and tenor Gran Wilson brought Benjamin Britten's Les Illuminations to life with lighting and projections by designers Doug Fitch and Tim McLoraine. The piece, which Britten set to a poem by French poet Arthur Rimbaud, conveys a general process of growth and discovery: a sensitive person encounters the world, struggles to find his place and to separate fantasy from reality, and emerges from the trial stronger and more confident. The lighting and projections create the surreal worlds that the character inhabits.
Want to know more about New Lights and see clips from rehearals of Les Illuminations? Watch "From the Lab to the Stage" from the University of Maryland's TerpVision.