Foundation Premieres Opera Film Inspired by Louis Kahn

Event: Premiere Screening of ARCHITECT
Location: Center for Architecture, 11.17.11
Speakers: John Conklin — Opera Designer; Sue Ann Kahn — Musician, Daughter of Louis Kahn; Lewis Spratlan — Composer; Jenny Kallick — Amherst College Music Professor; Michiko Theurer — Artist
Moderator: Hugh Hardy, FAIA — Principal, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture
Organizers: Center for Architecture Foundation
Sponsors: Judy and Walter Hunt; Goetz Fitzpatrick; Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents Association; SoHo Wines & Liquor; Washington Square Wines & Liquor

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Center for Architecture Foundation

ARCHITECT, a chamber opera based on the life and work of Louis I. Kahn, is an interdisciplinary work that weaves opera with photographs, video, and watercolors of both Kahn’s inspirations and his buildings. The piece features vocal and instrumental music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Lewis Spratlan, libretto by Amherst College Music Professor Jenny Kallick, electroacoustic music by John Downey, Jr. and Kallick, and paintings and photography by Michiko Theureur.

The discussion following the premiere screening examined the birth and evolution of the opera. Panelists talked about the use of multi-media to create an interdisciplinary art form — one where the audio and visual components work together yet functioned separately. Each speaker offered insights about the opera and discussed how each medium added to both the piece and to Kahn’s legacy. They spoke of the link between the opera and Kahn’s attention to materials, color, light, and sound. Kallick explained that the interplay of visual images on screen accompanied by electroacoustic and chamber music reflects the idea of buildings as “sounding spaces,” an idea central to Kahn’s work. Through her research, Kallick discovered that Kahn, who once considered a career as a composer, often said that “to hear a sound is to see a space.”

Looking forward, Kallick and Spratlan explained their visions for ARCHITECT. They intend to make the audio available for download, as well as perform additional live performances, possibly in one of Kahn’s buildings.

Funds raised from the event will support the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Kindergarten through 12th grade educational programs.