June 03, 2020
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The Matisse Jazz Project: Teaching the Eye to Hear

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The Matisse Jazz Project, a free multi-media concert event will be presented at the Gracie Theatre on the campus of Husson University, Thursday, October 13. The concert is part of Bangor’s Artober calendar with performances that day at 1:00 pm. and 7:00 pm.
The Matisse Jazz Project is a musical concert inspired by the iconic cut paper collages of Henri Matisse published in 1947 as Jazz. The twenty pieces composed by pianist Christopher Bakriges and performed with violinist Stanley Chepaitis correspond to each of the Matisse Jazz cutouts and his writings.
“What makes this concert exciting is the interdisciplinary involvement we have planned. There will be art students on stage creating their own scissor cut-outs during our daytime performance, and improvisaed choreography inspired by the music and projected images during the evening performance. This is a one-of-a-kind concert. “
Matisse viewed jazz as a “chromatic and rhythmic improvisation” and evoked the idea of a structure of rhythm and repetition broken by the unexpected action of improvisations. Matisse wrote, “There are wonderful things in real jazz, the talent for improvisation, the liveliness, the being at one with the audience.” The Bakriges Chepaitis collaboration leave their own stunningly touching and virtuosic homage to the legacy of a leading figure in modern art.
In 1941, the 72-year-old French artist underwent cancer surgery for which he did not think he would survive. Matisse was ill, bedridden, and unable to pick up a paint brush. However, he found he could maneuver scissors through prepared sheets of brightly colored paper. He referred to this technique as “painting with scissors.” Among his first adventures with paper cutouts was a book called Jazz, which Matisse prepared in 1942 and published in 1947 containing twenty color plates as well as his written thoughts. Both the text and the cut outs inspired the musicians to make what they refer to as musical reflections on Matisse’s work. Matisse used the energy of a still young musical idiom called jazz in enticing the art world to “teach the eye to hear.”
More information about the concert can be found by calling the Gracie Theatre box office at 941-7888. The concert is a gift of the late John Kilgore, Jr. whose love of music has contributed to similar concerts at the Gracie. Admission to both the afternoon and evenings performances is free with donations being accepted and returned to the fund.