Prometheus, Poem of Fire, op. 60
Since 2010, I have collaborated with the lighting designer Justin Townsend to produce new stagings of Alexander Scriabin's color symphony Prometheus, Poem of Fire. Scriabin completed the musical score in 1910, but the part for colored lights remained only a sketch. Scriabin elaborated the light part in a manuscript dated 1913, but it was lost soon after the composer's death and resurfaced only in 1978. The visionary ideas contained in the manuscript far exceeded the capabilities of early twentieth century lighting technology. Today we can come closer to realizing its notation, yet Prometheus continues to present challenges for performance. Our work combines in-depth contextual research, close attention to Scriabin's annotations, attunement to the performance space, and real-time responsivenss to the musicians' interpretation.
For each performance, Justin Townsend designs a lighting installation that is uniquely adapted to each space, including a custom-built tastiera per luce or keyboard for lights. I create a lighting script and arrange a part for luce that is both based on Scriabin's original annotations and is idiomatic to Justin's instrument. Collaboratively, we finesse the show cue-by-cue, seeking feedback from the performers as rehearsals progress.
In 2015, the Alexander Scriabin Memorial House and Museum in Moscow acquired a video of our work with the Yale Symphony Orchestra for their permanent archives. This performance has become the most-watched video of Prometheus on YouTube.
Utah State University Orchestra, directed by Laura Jackson, 2013
Click here for USUO program.
Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, directed by Jung Ho Pak, 2012
Click here for CCSO program.
Yale Symphony Orchestra, directed by Toshiyuki Shimada, 2010
Click here for YSO program.
Click underlined text to access article.
Campbell, "Visitors coordinate a concert at Utah State University," Utah State Art News (November 24, 2013)
Schulte, "'Prometheus' at Utah State University," Utah State Today (Nov. 21, 2013)
Blood, "An invitation to listen with your eyes," Barnstable Patriot (Sept. 28, 2012)
Powers, "Symphony links art forms with 'Gallery of the Greats,'" Cape Cod Times (Sept. 20, 2012)
"A Symphony of Light," Yale University GSAS News (March-April 2010)
Yee, "A performance to end the world?" Yale Daily News (February 12, 2010)
Johnson, "Taste the Rainbow: YSO gets psychedelic with a historically-informed performance," New Haven Advocate (February 11, 2010)
Baker, "Scriabin's 'Prometheus' to be performed at Yale in living color," Yale Daily News (Jan. 15, 2010)
Yale Symphony Orchestra (2010)
Video: Thom Stylinski
Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra (2012)
Photos: Steve Bearse
Utah State University Orchestra (2013)