San Francisco Symphony 100 Year Anniversary Gala Projection Mapping
A couple of weeks ago my colleagues at Obscura Digital and I completed the architectural projections for the San Francisco Symphony’s 100 Year Anniversary Gala, “Fanfare for a New Century”. Over 2,700 attendees came to see our augmentation of the interior of Davies Symphony Hall with a architecturally aligned video canvas.
The bill for this ’11-’12 season opener included Copland’s 1938 Billy the Kid Ballet Suite, Lang Lang on the piano for Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Itzhak Perlman’s performance of his famed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor Opus 64, Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra Opus 34.
Obscura visuals lined the walls during the pre-performance audience seating and intermission. But the real spectacle of the night was our accompaniment to the encore of John Adams’ Short Ride on a Fast Machine. This piece consisted of a fly-through of San Francisco starting from satellite views down to a tour of its most famous landmarks. Shots of driving across the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, and of abstract driving scenes, were timed along with the orchestral performance, creating a stunning tribute to the orchestra and composer to whom they have been so closely linked.
We are proud to have been a part of this event, the latest in a series of collaborations with SF Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Earlier this year we illuminated the Sydney Opera House for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra with MTT conducting.
While these pieces are great spectacles in the finest Baroque tradition it’s my hope that we can find other adventurous ensembles to further push the boundaries of audio/visual mixed media work. While tasteful and carefully crafted accompaniment thus far these works have gone no farther, due to the traditional inertia inherent to the centuries old institution of the orchestra. We need new works that treat the architecture and accompaniment as a single integrated work with the visuals as a inexorable part of the experience, and badly.