By Jill Overacker, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival
The 2012 Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival ran June 9-24 in venues throughout metro Detroit. The Festival presented more than 20 performances of chamber music with a focus on music from Russian composers. With the support of a $20,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Festival was able to work in collaboration with other organizations to present four large works by Russia’s Igor Stravinsky. One such work was a fully-staged version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring performed by Festival musicians and the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble.
The original choreography to the work depicted the sacrifice of a young girl who dances herself to death. EDE artistic director, Laurie Eisenhower, retold the story with brand new choreography that presented “The Rite(s) of Spring” as new discoveries whose effects on society have been permanent: fire, the wheel, machines, and technology. Eisenhower has waited years for the perfect time to choreograph to the The Rite of Spring.
“I have been interested in choreographing to this music for at least 25 years. Because it is such an iconic work and many notable choreographers have already choreographed important works using this music, I felt I needed to be more mature to tackle it,” said Eisenhower, “I also wanted all the right forces to come together in order to do it right. Performing it as part of the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival with wonderful musicians was important.”
The performance was reviewed by Mark Stryker, music critic for The Detroit Free Press on Saturday, June 16. Stryker called the piece “stunning” and said the performance was “…one of the largest undertakings in Great Lakes history, but the ambition paid off handsomely in an inventive production that aimed high and often soared higher.” Stryker then gave the performance the highest possible rating – 4 out of 4 stars.
The Rite of Spring enjoyed a sold-out performance of 700 patrons on Saturday, June 16 and a nearly sold-out encore performance of 550 patrons on Sunday, June 17.