May 17, 2016

Here Comes SOLUNA

What to expect from the annual festival.

SOLUNA, the international aiusic and arts festival that merges classical music with visual art, is coming to Dallas for its second year with some very big names involved.

SOLUNA will open today, May 17, with “Rules of the Game,” a collaboration between Grammy-winning musician Pharrell Williams, artist Daniel Arsham, and choreographer Jonah Bokaer. The festival will continue through June 5, featuring pieces with internationally-acclaimed artists like Anton Ginzburg and Paola Pivi. SOLUNA had a preview during Dallas Arts Week that combined artists Barbara Kasten’s projects of rotating cubes with movements by composers Philip Glass and Tomos Adès. We asked SOLUNA curator Muriel Quancard about what we can expect from the 2016 edition of SOLUNA.

What’s the purpose of Soluna?

Really, it’s two-fold. There’s the idea to imagine the new formats that combine classical music or modern classical music with visual arts, and visual art is a large scope now, so including performance and various forms of performance. The idea was to bring together in partnership the different institutions that are in the Arts District. So, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is behind the initiative. They have very tight partnerships with the Nasher and the Dallas Museum of Art, as well as institutions that are outside of their district, like Dallas Contemporary, and last year we did something with Goss-Michael Foundation.

This year you got Pharrell Williams, Daniel Arsham and Jonah Bokaer to collaborate on a piece. How did that happen? Can you tell us a little about it?

We were interested in transversal artworks that would bring together different artists with a set of skills. We’re also interested in collaboration. Daniel Arsham and Jonah Bokaer collaborated with Merce Cunningham, who is an icon. He really broke ground, and both and that experience, and when they left Merce Cunningham, they started to collaborate in a different way because Merce was curating everything separately, bringing everything together, and they had no idea of what each other were doing until they were on stage. When Daniel and Jonah started to work together, it was like a total collaboration. Now that said, Daniel also had a collaboration with Pharrell Williams, and as SOLUNA, wanting to bring all kinds of genres of music and arts together, we saw potential there.

What else can we expect from this year’s SOLUNA?

To be surprised. First of all, “Rules of the Game” is going to be astonishing due to the quality of the stage design, the composition and the music arrangement. We have a very daring performance with Paola Pivi, who is going to work around this idea of the reverse airplane that’s actually on display at Dallas Contemporary, and we’re going to bring musicians in that piece, as well as in a playful situation with all the protagonists of the exhibition, which are colored bears. Mai-Thu Perret also is going to be quite a surprise. She’s collaborating with a group of student percussionists with all kinds of funny instruments, and all the piece will really be curated a week or two before the show. And Anton Ginzburg, who is doing two videos for ReMix. I did a studio visit, and I thought, “No that’s not possible.” It’s a very astonishing piece.

What kinds of audiences are you trying to attract?

Anyone, really. The idea is to turn people onto culturally relevant topics and current trends in arts and get people to think, but also to enjoy and feel, because music is a very immediate medium. SOLUNA can be appealing to audiences who really want to be entertained, as well as audiences who have more of an intellectual approach to arts.

Why is it so important to cross-pollinate these different genres?

The situation of the symphony in Dallas, I think what they wanted to do was to take their prestige and leverage the cultural resources that are around them in the Arts District, and they really wanted to lead a project that’s allowing more people to access arts and culture.

The Details: SOLUNA takes place from May 17 through June 5. For more information, click here.