Photo by Kirsten Poulsen-House
The University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra proved that even orchestras can combine movement with music during its performance of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” in May. Led by director James Ross, the ensemble reunited with renowned choreographer Liz Lerman and her team after a critically-acclaimed performance of Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” in 2012.
The members of the orchestra were very receptive to the process of choreographing the performance. “The big challenge to them was that they had to memorize this 27-minute piece of music—from the triangle player, to the string bass player, to the harpsichordist, to the tympanist, everyone,” says collaborator Vincent Thomas. The biggest decision, Thomas concludes, was whether or not the performers should wear shoes. “Without shoes, you’re closer to the ground, to the earth,” he says. “It opens your body up more, spiritually.”