This Saturday, the UMMA@SMTD partnership series will present “Elevation: New Heights in the Concert Hall,” featuring the exhibit “The Aesthetic Movement in America: Artist of the Photo Secession.”

The collection showcases early 20th century photographs by a group of artists, including Alfred Stieglitz, who aimed to elevate the status of photography before it became an established art form. This particular group used certain techniques in their photography to achieve similar effect that may come from viewing paintings, which were, at the time, deemed to be “high art.”

Through these images, they argued that photography was as legitimate of an art form as painting and sculpture; they argued that photography too should be considered high art. By using techniques such as soft focus, and using processes that were extraordinarily labor-intensive, their artistic argument about photography gained validation.

The music aspect of the exhibit features composers that assert musical ideas that were not considered high art, such as Charles Ives and Astor Piazzolla. The virtuosity of these composers, like the art, comes from a slightly different source, but is just as beautiful.

“We look at the exhibition program for the year and concoct concerts and performances that either connect through the kernel of an idea, artistic process, or creative impulse,” said Lisa Borgdorf, the manager of public programs. “We try and be idiosyncratic in terms of conceptualizing the concerts.”

But, the music and the art are not necessarily just connected through their chronology.

“While that connection is definitely there, it’s not as interesting as the other kinds of connections we can make,” said Jennifer Goltz, co-curator of SMTD@UMMA. “The chronology has been done plenty, but making connections to the artistic impulse is what we’re after.”

The marriage between art and music has been showcased in many different ways over the course of the partnership. The collaborations aim to question these differences in both visual art and music.

The partnership, which started in the fall of 2009, features eight concerts per year in the series. Depending on what the inspiration is for the performance, and how tight the connection is between the music and the art, UMMA works to make sure that the connection is explicit.

“The performances draw 100-300 people,” Borgdorf said. “Either at the intermission or the end of the concert we open the exhibition so people can have the immediacy of seeing what’s on the walls and relate it to what they experienced in the performance hall.”

Paralleling ideas, examining social nodes and drawing connections between art and music is a main goal for the concerts. One may think that two artists or two composers may be extremely different, but when looked at in a new light or under unconventional circumstances, there is so much common ground that can be found.

“The series has breadth — it also often includes dance performances, performances with the jazz department and performing arts technology,” Borgdorf said. “The notion of asserting music, and drawing non-concert hall music into the concert hall and asserting its status as art, is really what the concert series is about.” 

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