Darwin’s Dream. Elliot Schwartz at Symphony Space 21 9 16

Posted on September 22nd, 2016 by


Elliott Schwart-Darwin’s Dream

Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin

Live at Symphony Space, New York City 21 9 16

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Photo by Marius Skaerved. Playing Elliott Schwartz's 'Darwin's Dream' Symphony Space. New York City 21 9 16

Photo by Marius Skaerved. Playing Elliott Schwartz’s ‘Darwin’s Dream’ Symphony Space. New York City 21 9 16

On the 21st September, I was able, for the first time, to play Elliott Schwartz’s wonderful ‘Darwin’s Dream’ at Sympnony Space on the Upper West Side of New York. I am lucky enough to have been involved in this emerging piece, which is the result of Elliott’s collaboration with the work of his late wife, Dorothy (Deedee) Schwartz. The two of them were fascinated by the ideas and life of Charles Darwin, and on visits to England, this evolved into a beautiful set of drawings, paintings and engravings and this piece.

Composer Elliott Schwartz, Artist Deedee Schwartz with photographer Richard Bram, post rehearsal, 22nd June 2012

Composer Elliott Schwartz, Artist Deedee Schwartz with photographer Richard Bram, post rehearsal, 22nd June 2012

Deedee’s work had a profound influence on my own work as both a musician and a painter, and I am proud to say that some of her drawings and paintings (including two of the ‘Darwin’ sequence) grace our apartment in Wapping.

Dorothy Schwartz-Endless Darwins IV

Dorothy Schwartz-Endless Darwins IV

I shared their fascination; I had been fascinated by Darwin since I was a child, and this fascination was reignited by the 2006 show at the Natural History Museum in New York City, which found its way into my notebooks at the time.

Red Tailed Hawk, and reading Darwin. New York City. Summer 2006

Red Tailed Hawk, and reading Darwin. New York City. Summer 2006

My first performance of ‘Darwin’s Dream’ took place at an exhibition of some of Dororthy Schwartz’s work at Robinson College Cambridge in 2010. Here’s a link to that performance and some of my writing at the time: LINK

PSS improvising with Deedee Schwartz's Darwin Series. Robinson College, Cambridge, 26th November 2010

Where it all begain for me. PSS improvising with Deedee Schwartz’s Darwin Series. Robinson College, Cambridge, 26th November 2010

Elliott designed the piece to be ‘free’ in that the performer or performers are invited to  invent a response to his electronic material and (certainly in my case) Deedee’s paintings. I have to say that much of what I do and have done with the piece mirrors conversations that I had with her about painting and the insights she offered me into her (and my work). Here’s a drawing which I did shortly after one of those talks.

Silverpoint Conversation with Deedee Schwartz 2009

Silverpoint Conversation with Deedee Schwartz 2009

This spirit of joyful conversation and the play of ideas, infects everything that Elliott and Deedee do and did. My family and I treasure the time that we have spent with them, in America and the UK, talking over diner breakfasts, tea and riotous after-concert suppers.

With composer Elliott Schwartz, his wife, artist Deedee Schwartz, and writer Malene Skaerved. Portland, Maine-August 2011. Breakfast, and plotting more developments for our Jefferson/Cosway project

With composer Elliott Schwartz, his wife, artist Deedee Schwartz, and writer Malene Skaerved. Portland, Maine-August 2011. Breakfast, and plotting more developments for our Jefferson/Cosway project

Elliott was unable to be at this September’s concert at Symphony Space, but joined us more than in spirit, on a tablet/Skype, from where he was able to overseet he rehearsals of the whole concert and be a fountain of ideas and encouragement all day.

 

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Eillott Schwartz on Skype 21 9 16

This was not my first performance of Darwin’s Dream in the USA. In …. I gave a performance in Maine as part of  ‘Darwin Conference’ organised by the  Maine Society for the Humanities. That performance was filled with Darwin’s own texts. My performance this year was much more ‘through composed’, musically denser, and the texts which chose just came from Ovid (Metamorphoses) and Lucretius (de Rarum Naturae).

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My new performing score for Darwin's Dream. As of 20 9 2016

My new performing score for Darwin’s Dream. As of 20 9 2016

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Dorothy Schwartz-Endless Darwins IV

Dorothy Schwartz-Endless Darwins IV-This hangs on our wall in Wapping

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Dorothy Schwartz-Endless Darwins VIII

Dorothy Schwartz-Endless Darwins VIII

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