An Image That Fits The Music: A Guest Blog Post by Managing Director Megan Balderston
One of my unexpected “favorite” things about being Managing Director of Chicago Chorale is that of being the brand ambassador, which is a fancy way to say that I get to work closely with our graphic designer to pick the images around our concert and brochure artwork. Over the years this has turned into a labor of love for Artistic Director Bruce Tammen and me, who are often the final decision makers for our concert artwork. I am certain we are not the easiest people to work with. For a recent concert, the direction I gave our intrepid graphic designer, Arlene Harting-Josue, was: “Can we come up with some abstract image that presents these concepts: something upwards and onwards. Something perhaps joyous, but seriously so. Not whimsical, not antique; but something fresh and modern and inviting.” Somehow Arlene can sift through this and give us some great ideas. And we know what we like when we see it.
The imagery for this concert was, therefore, a surprise. The Mozart Requiem is so iconic a piece, and despite the sadness of its subject matter, is not entirely sad. It is enshrouded in mystery. By its very unfinished nature, one always wonders what would have been, had Mozart lived to truly complete it. (See Bruce’s blog post about the Robert Levin completion we are using.)
Still, I was a bit surprised how the concert artwork affected our choir members when we presented it to them. For Bruce and me, the photograph was hands down our favorite in the mood it conveyed, and we didn’t ask about it. But the choir came back with: “What is the story of this image?” and “This image: I find it beautiful but it disturbs me, at the same time.” They asked me to go back to the photographer, Javier de la Torre, and find the story behind the photograph. Here is what he says:
“This pier is located in a really old fishing village called Carrasqueira, in the Alentejo area, close to Lisbon, Portugal. The piers have traditionally been maintained by the fishermen, but this particular pier is abandoned and no maintenance is done, so, nowadays, it doesn’t exist.
This shot was taken in 2010, and 3 years later, in 2013, I returned to Carrasqueira, but the pier was almost destroyed. Last December a great storm finally destroyed it totally, so, this shot cannot be repeated anymore.”
Knowing the story makes me appreciate our instinctive choice of the photo even more. For my part, I felt that the visual representation of the unknown structure of the pier beneath the surface, as well as the beauty of the colors, made for a striking and memorable image. Like music performed live, the photographer captured a moment in time that will never again be replicated. And Bruce? He says, “The feel of the image looks to me like the sound of the Lacrimosa movement.”
Interesting, ephemeral, and beautiful: much like Mozart’s music and his legacy.