Risk-taking in the arts is not like gambling in a casino. Instead, it is a necessary part of the creative process, according to a trio of arts leaders who spoke Sunday in a panel discussion titled "A Creative Conversation: Music and Art — Blurring the Boundaries."
The discussion, part of the Greenfield Prize Weekend sponsored by the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Greenfield Foundation, brought together Joseph V. Melillo, executive producer of Brooklyn Academy of Music; designer Anne Patterson and Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony and Aspen Music Festival and School.
"I think the risks are worth it becuase of what we learn from them," said Spano.
"Unless you're really willing to put the lousy ideas out on the table, you'll never get to the good ones," said Patterson, who showed projections of a set she had designed for the Atlanta Symphony's performances of Bach's "St. Matthew Passion."
Patterson, who described herself as having synesthesia (the ability to visual music as colors and shapes), began with a colored pencil sketch of rivers of color. Her ultimate design had a series of stepped platforms representing Jesus's journey to the cross.
"I listen to the music in depth, repeatedly," said Patterson, who then works to get her immediate responses down on paper."
Presenting music on a set rather than against the typical acoustic backdrops that reflect the music out into the audience offers some complications, said Spano. Patterson sometimes wants the orchestra to be seated differently, which may or may not work from a conducting and performing standpoint.