Fantasia Gets An Adult Makeover

In just a few months, architect Frank Gehry’s latest creation will dominate Miami’s artistic scene as the New World Symphony’s arts ‘laboratory,’ where the musical and the visual will be combined into one dynamic arts experience.

In December 2007 the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation granted New World Symphony a Knight New Media Endowment of five million dollars. The money will be used for media innovations in the arts such as online broadcasting of performances, a digital music library, and integration of video art and music in the symphony’s new building.

New World Symphony, Miami Beach

The building seeks to allow a performance space for NWS while incorporating animated art and new media technology into the concert experience. Working with video artist Tal Rosner, who listens to musical pieces, sketches his reactions, and develops them into video graphics, NWS has already begun integrating the music world with novel video artwork. In Rosner’s interpretation of both Benjamin Britten and Igor Stravinsky’s works, changes in tempo, dynamic, and tone are all expressed visually in mutable combinations of color and line projected onto a screen behind the musicians.

Gehry’s design will take that music-video combination to the next level by permitting both art forms to exist throughout the hall rather than confining them to the traditional stage and back-drop. Acoustic sails all around and above the hall help to completely envelop listeners sitting in any section, and the experience is enhanced with two extra platforms for musicians situated in the middle of the seating areas. The design eliminates the division between audience and performer. In one large space, the music, the art, and the active listening and watching mingle to form an altogether new artistic experience.

It is impossible to predict the response to this kind of artistic collaboration. The new environment might overwhelm the senses; art purists may reject what could be viewed as a muddying of both media.

On the other hand, detecting change in an animated image alongside change in the music might help visual learners engage with the works. With shows as short as twenty minutes, or ‘journeys’ as long as two to three hours, art will be available to anyone, at any concentration, in either musical or visual form. It is an opportunity for the arts in Miami to soar to a new level of accessibility.

New World Symphony, Miami Beach

Just a few months ago, the space was totally vacant. The several stories of performance space seem to have shot up in a matter of moments. More exciting than its seemingly quick arrival, however, is of course the building’s promised mission to challenge and change the Miami art world.

For more information, visit New World Symphony’s new campus online.