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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Nymphs, lovers, Pan, and pirates: the Kalamazoo Symphony will immerse you in a mythic story

Daphnis
Wikimedia Commons, public domain
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Daphnis et Chloé, 1918 painting by Maurice Denis

Maurice Ravel’s ballet masterpiece Daphnis et Chloé is filled with descriptive details written in the score, says Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra music director Julian Kuerti. On Friday, Apr 1 at 7:30 pm, projections will allow the audience to follow every step of the story set in an idyllic world of nymphs, shepherds and shepherdesses, minor deities and pirates.

One of the hallmarks of Ravel’s lustrous music for this ballet is the wordless chorus woven throughout. The 40-member Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus will join the KSO for this performance. Artistic director Chris Ludwa, who oversaw their preparation, says even without words, he’s taken care in finding the right vowel sounds to mix with the instruments.

Kuerti and Ludwa join Cara Lieurance for a preview, discussing the ballet’s origins with Ballet Russe, the 2nd century story that inspired it, and how Ravel’s music is deeply connected to movement and dance. Kuerti also shares details on the works that open the program: Mozart’s ballet music from Idomeneo and Till Eulenspiegel’s Mewrry Pranks, by Richard Strauss.