Tacoma, Wash. — Symphony Tacoma, the Museum of Glass and Hilltop Artists are collaborating with Mount Rainier National Park in a multi-event project culminating with the Symphony’s 2016-2017 Season Finale in May. In commemoration of the Centennial of the National Parks System, the multi-layered project will engage area residents in music and glass art and raise awareness of the plight of Mount Rainier’s glaciers, which are melting at an alarming rate.

The first event takes place Thursday, March 16 from 5-8 pm at the Museum of Glass, in conjunction with the museum’s free Third Thursdays.  The Hilltop Artist Association’s team of student artists will collaborate with Symphony Tacoma musicians to engage the public in an experiential relationship with the artistic process, utilizing ice and molten glass. The musicians will perform both composed and improvised music, giving to and receiving from the glass-blowers inspiration as they create performance art interpreting the Mountain and Sea concept and highlighting the contrast between fire and ice.  The event is supported in part by a grant from The Russell Family Foundation.

The molten glass is a metaphor for the flowing magma within the mountain, and the ice reflects the changes to its exterior. Video footage from the event will be incorporated, together with images of Mount Rainier, for a video art piece to accompany the May 13 world premiere of Puyallup native Daniel Ott’s symphony Fire Mountain. The visual depictions of the molten glass and snow-capped peak, together with the chorus vocals, will poignantly illustrate global warming and the resulting glacial melt.  The intention is to create a powerful piece of video art, developed integrally with the music, rather than a documentary. Thus the end result will be a true gesamtkunstwerk:  a multimedia artistic statement utilizing music, glass and video.

A musical portrait of these natural wonders, Fire Mountain will utilize 155 musicians, including the 85-piece Symphony Tacoma orchestra and 70-piece Symphony Tacoma Voices.  As an area native, Dan Ott brings a personal connection to the subject, which will no doubt infuse the music with a range of emotions about this wounded and vulnerable national treasure.

Also performed during the Pantages Theater concert will be Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” and Debussy’s Impressionist masterpiece, La Mer.  The program is characteristic of Music Director Sarah Ioannides’s curatorial approach to programming: gem-setting a new artistic creation with colorful, complementary music from the core repertoire and visual elements. The result is a multi-media experience that is challenging yet accessible to audiences.

“Art responds to life, and by building relationships in the community, art can serve as a catalyst for education, growth and transformation in a region,” stated Sarah Ioannides. “Through working in multiple mediums, this partnership seeks to produce an inspiring experience, leaving participants sobered by the gravity of the ecological situation, but hopeful and empowered to undertake an active role in protecting our region.”