BY SHELBY LOOCK | PHOTO BY ALEX THOMAS
Guitars, puppets, and animations will join together Sunday, March 5, to produce the second annual Illuminated Harmony concert at Edgewood College.
This collaborative project combines the work of the Music and Art departments, as well as Theatre Arts and Religious Studies.
The concert, subtitled Laudato Si: On Care of our Common Home, references the project’s inspiration: Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical by the same title. The visuals for the production are the work of Art Professor Sr. Isabel Rafferty.
Using a combination of thousands of images, she created an animated project that focuses on environmental issues, such as those outlined in Laudato Si.
The Edgewood Guitar Ensemble, directed by Nathan Wysock, and three Edgewood choirs, directed by Katy Otterson and Sergei Pavlov, will combine the visuals with a musical storyline. Susan Nanning-Sorenson’s puppetry students will add a theatrical component.
“Before I could create the visual, I had to study the Papal documents,” Rafferty said. “We had meetings with the choir directors and John Leonard from Religious Studies. He has been great in helping with the underlying concept of Laudato Si.”
The music was selected first in order to establish the story. The seven songs to be performed by the choirs focus on the beauty of the Earth and environmental issues such as climate change and species extinction, and call the audience to action.
“Every individual song conveys what Laudato Si is about, and I needed two songs that would send us out to fix the issue,” Rafferty said. After the music was chosen, she was able to compile images to create the visual presentation. With Megan Adams, a library graduate assistant, she searched for high-resolution images and high-definition videos related to the concept of Laudato Si. Using the Adobe program After Effects, she then animated the material in the context of the storyline.
“I wanted to put Earth in the context of cosmos. Not as the center of the universe, but as a tiny, blue dot.” she said. The first song in the choral program, Eriks Esenvalds’s “Stars,” combined with NASA images sets the framework for that.
“We are just a tiny little entity; we are not the be all and end all of everything. All the billions of people who have lived, all lived in that tiny little speck. It helps me to appreciate the beauty of it. We can imagine there might be planets as beautiful as this, but how do we care for the one we have?”
Rafferty said the project will be an immersive way to spread the message of Laudato Si and hopes that it will encourage dialogue. Excerpts from the encyclical will be included in the program notes.
“We have made such a mess, and there’s so much suffering.” Rafferty said. “Part of the papers is to encourage dialogue about the issue of climate change and how we treat once another, and the most vulnerable, and the most needy.”
She said that collaboration enhances the project’s message. “Religious Studies is the basis for it. The puppetry adds another layer. It’s enriching to the entire performance. Music and imagery appeal to the heart.”