Shakespeare’s McBeth character adroitly captures the tragedy of the “idiot” side of human kind’s fleetingly brief appearance on life’s “stage” with his often quoted “sound and fury” soliloquy during the “within the castle” scene. Fortunately for much entertained audiences, several recent musical performances during the Savannah Music Festival show an ever evolving dynamic on historic district stages, the blending of sight and sound for the audience’s listening and viewing pleasure. With recent performances prior to this year’s festival by diverse orchestras such as the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra merging such varied presentations as screening silent film backdrops with tastefully done music to a laser light shows and psychedelic imagery accompanied by Pink Floyd inspired tunes.
This is really nothing more than a local reflection of a growing national trend towards integrating sight and sound, live musical performances in combination with visual effects according to one performing arts director. And this trend of “listening with your eyes” is really gaining traction with live concert performers, especially orchestras and ensembles, and their rapt audiences. Recently, Jacqueline Schwab performed music she composed for the Ken Burns Documentary on Mark Twain at the still running Savannah Music Festival. The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra performed a rousing composition while screening a Buster Keaton silent film in the background. We prefer our stage performances to be uplifting and filled with inspirational sight and sound, so kudos to this emerging genre of live performance experimenters. May this aspect of the performing arts continue to evolve! And good on you Savannah Music Festival for having the foresight for delivering such world class entertainment on this record setting month in the historic district.