The sound of art: ASO to deliver concert celebrating art and music; local artist Servello featured

Visual and audible art are coming together for an upcoming Altoona Symphony Orchestra concert.

The concert “Symphony of Colors” will take the stage Saturday for the fourth concert in the 2013-14 season. The concert “Powerful Finale Celebrating the Spirit of this Great City, Altoona,” will round out the season April 12.

The “Symphony of Colors” concept highlights “how music and images correlate,” offering two main compositions: “La Mer,” by French composer Claude Debussy in the early 1900s, and “Pictures at an Exhibition,” which was first composed for the piano by Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky in 1874 and then for an orchestra by French composer Maurice Ravel, Maestra Teresa Cheung said in an email.

Paintings and drawings from Mussorgsky’s artist and architect friend, Viktor Hartmann, inspired his composition, she said. Childhood memories of the sea and paintings of the sea inspired Debussy’s “La Mer.” “Both works contained multiple movements,” she said.

The concert will open “with a beautiful and sublime short work by Russian composer Anatol Liadov, ‘The Enchanted Lake,'” Cheung said. “Quite a different body of water than ‘La Mer,’ I must say. It is a chance for our audience to close their eyes and create their own version of the enchanted lake in their minds.”

The concert will feature artwork from Altoona artist Joe Servello.

Servello sent Cheung paintings he had created based on Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a few years ago, she said. Servello “recreated” and “adapted” more than 60 small pictures with paint on construction paper, he said.

“There are only six known works from the original Hartmann show left so [Servello] drew inspiration from the music and really expanded on the work,” Pamela Snyder Etters said in an email. “Joe’s work not only depicts some of Hartmann’s original works, it also tells the story of Mussorgsky’s experience walking through the exhibition. Many of the paintings are transitional in the story and show Mussorgsky actually walking through the gallery spaces and entering new rooms.”

During the concert, the audience will get to see projected images of Servello’s paintings while the orchestra plays “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

“I was deeply moved and inspired by his amazing creation, and decided that soon I must find a chance to share them with our audience,” Cheung said of Servello. “It is particularly poignant to me how this has come full circle: Music inspired by visual art and then visual art inspired by music.”

The admiration between Cheung and Servello is mutual.

“I have always admired Mr. Servello’s works: the use of deep, rich colors and his magical depiction of emotion and movements,” she said. “Most amazingly, I love how he makes time freeze and draws me into his paintings. Rather than remaining an observer, I feel like I am becoming one of the characters in his works.”

Servello, an illustrator, has created artwork for more than 60 books, including his latest, which he also wrote, “You Are an Artist: Ideas and Encouragement for Children.”

“I’m very thrilled about it. I’m very happy about it because I admire the director, Teresa Cheung, and the orchestra very much,” Servello said of how he feels about his part in the celebration and the orchestra celebrating his work. “They’re just simply great. It’s just amazing, they’re amazingly good and to have them here in Altoona is wonderful.”

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.