A Transfigured Night unfolds in art, music
By Kelly Smith
When The Florida Orchestra performs Arnold
Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night (Verklärte Nacht)
at the end of March, music, poetry and art will combine
into a dreamlike, multisensory experience
bathed in moonlight.
The nearly 30-minute piece will be performed live
on a mostly dark stage, as a painting by local artist
Geff Strik slowly evolves – transfigures – through
multimedia into a final scene on a giant screen.
Both the music and artwork are inspired by Richard
Dehmel’s haunting poem of the same name, which
also will appear line by line onscreen. Music Director
Michael Francis conducts.
The concept started
on a whim in a Kahwa
coffee shop in
St. Pete, where TFO
Francis’ idea to illustrate
Night for TFO
it be cool if Strik
and Francis could
work together? Just
as she texted a message
to Strik — there
he was over her shoulder. One thing led to another,
including meetings with Francis and new TFO President
& CEO Mark Cantrell, and the idea blossomed
into an ambitious multimedia project underwritten
by a generous patron — Phil Yost.
Paintbrush in hand, Strik was moved by the 1896
poem, which depicts a tormented couple (she’s
pregnant by another man) walking through the
moonlight, transfigured by deep love, compassion
and understanding. Each stage of the painting was
THE FLORIDA ORCHESTRA | 2018-2019
captured digitally, and Strik continued to paint over
each scene on one large canvas.
The art piece became a multilevel collaboration.
Strik is an internationally acclaimed French artist
who now lives in St. Petersburg. Phil Yost is an
arts lover and community leader who runs multiple
offices throughout Tampa Bay as the president of
Compass Land & Title, and Joey Clay is an awardwinning
photographer/videographer. All felt inspired
by the poem and the music.
Transfigured Night will be performed March 29-31 on
the Tampa Bay Times Masterworks concert headlined
Piano Concerto No.
1, featuring Benjamin
The piece is usually
played as a
string sextet, the
it, but TFO is
performing the revised
for string orchestra.
There are no
On the night of the live performance, a lot of moving
parts must work together perfectly. The images of
the painting are edited to ebb and flow on screen in
harmony with the text of the poem and live music.
“With all the layers of this artwork, you get the true
depth of the story,” Yost said.
Arnold Schoenberg’s Transfigured Night is represented
by Belmont Music Publishers, with great thanks to
Anne Wirth Schoenberg, Director.