University set to host unique multi-art festival in celebration of Expressionism

A first-of-its kind festival celebrating the influence of Expressionism across music, film and visual art will be held at the University in March.

Expressionism: Emotions Unchained is believed to break new ground in bringing together the work of legendary figures such as Alexander Scriabin, Arnold Schönberg and Fritz Lang across different events that consider the influence these artists had upon the world and each other.

Over the course of four nights, there will be concerts, screenings and live events featuring internationally-renowned performers including New York-based soprano Erika Baikoff.

“Expressionism is one of the most intense and influential movements in art,” 

says Dr Robert Taub, Music Director at The Arts Institute, at the University. 

“Its defining characteristic is the artistic interpretation of the emotions that arise from experiencing daily realities, rather than a portrayal of the realities themselves. And this festival represents a first, in drawing together the pivotal music, visual art, and film of the period into a reflective, cohesive experience.”

The festival opens on 12 March with a concert, pairing the final piano sonata of composer Scriabin, with Schönberg’s melodrama Pierrot Lunaire for mezzo soprano and instrumental ensemble – two works created within a year of one another in the early stages of Expressionism. The performance will be staged in the Sherwell Theatre, and features Robert Taub, pianist; Alison Wells, mezzo soprano; the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Kokoro Ensemble; and Mark Forkgen, conductor.

Two days later, the focus switches to film with the influential German science-fiction epic, Metropolis, screened in the Jill Craigie Cinema. The film will be introduced by Anna Navas, Film Administrator at The Arts Institute and Dr Taub.

Glasgow-based Art historian Dr Deborah Lewer will join Dr Taub on stage for a talk entitled Visual Art and Music on 16 March, discussing the intersection of the two artforms at the heart of Expressionism. Together, they will explore questions such as how did Wagner’s Tristan chord change music? How did Kirchner’s brief but emotionally charged time in the military impact his paintings? How did Scriabin’s synesthesia influence his music? Did Schönberg’s experiences with painting reflect in his music? And how did Schönberg’s music influence the works of Egon Schiele?

Expressionism: Emotions Unchained closes on the 19th with a second concert that features three string quartets from composers Schönberg, Anton Webern and Alban Berg. Each quartet – Webern’s Langsamer Satz, Schönberg’s String Quartet no.2, and Berg’s String Quartet – will be performed by the acclaimed Marmen Quartet. Erika Baikoff, from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, will perform in Schönberg’s iconic work.

Expressionism emerged at a time of pandemic, of urban crowding, international tension, political unrest, and depersonalization of our lives,”

adds Dr Taub.

“All of these issues have their parallels in today’s world, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so fascinating to look at this artistic movement through a contemporary lens. In its portrayal of emotions arising from the experiencing of daily realities, rather than representational portrayal of the realities themselves, Expressionism speaks to us as vibrantly now as it ever did.”

Expressionism: Emotions Unchained

12–19 March 2022
Our festival Expressionism: Emotions Unchained offered a unique integration of pivotal music, visual art, and film of this energetic and vibrant artistic era of unbounded influence. We hosted four extraordinary evenings with world-leading artists, including Robert Taub, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Kokoro Ensemble, Alison Wells, the Marmen Quartet and Erika Baikoff.

<p>Expressionism: Emotions Unchained, Illustration by BA (Hons) Illustration student Milly Gowan<br></p>