Mikhail Baryshnikov, María Pagés, Tim Fain and a host of other talented artists have showcased their artistic expressions on the elegant and historic stages that serve as the performance galleries for the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF). So too will the famed Mark Morris Dance Group from New York; New Orleans’s world-famous music machine The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Ensemble Basiani, the all-male choir from the Republic of Georgia this year. The 2012 Festival, which runs Oct. 10-13, is a presentation of the “Art of Our Time” by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
RIAF marks the official start of the season on Florida’s “Cultural Coast.” The Festival is a celebration of contemporary music, dance, theater, and film. It is produced in partnership with, and under the artistic direction of, New York’s the Baryshnikov Arts Center. New this year is a “Festival Film Series” and performances in Joseph’s Coat, the largest Skyspace to date by artist James Turrell. Presented annually since 2009 RIAF has captivated audiences interested in experiencing contemporary art. Most productions last an hour, making it possible to see multiple performances on any given day of the Festival. The Museum is also discounting admission during the Festival.
On the music front, this year’s performers include Ensemble Basiani. The all-male polyphonic choir hailing from the Republic of Georgia produce profound harmonies, creating an unbridled sound verging on the wild and primitive at times, yet remains tempered by intricate vocal layering. Audiences in the Historic Asolo Theater will be transformed by a journey that takes them straight to the heart of Georgian folk tradition, where compositions that date as far back as the 7th to 13th centuries are reborn in the glorious harmonies and crisp crescendos. With its roots grounded in history that dates back to the first millennium, the music of Ensemble Basiani may be steeped in ancient tradition, but their otherworldly sound is contemporary with a sound so moving.
The Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG), one of the world’s leading dance companies, follows in the footsteps of other notable dance companies making an appearance at RIAF. MMDG stages new and classic works with three performances during the Ringling International Arts Festival in the Mertz Theatre. Fresh off his Lincoln Center conducting debut, Mark Morris marries his dance creations with live music make for a sensational series of performances at this year’s Festival. The program will consist of four selections ranging from one of MMDG’s earliest creations to a new work titled, “A Wooden Tree,” which premieres in Morris’s hometown of Seattle the week prior to RIAF.
The RIAF Closing Night Party stars the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Saturday. Oct. 13. The New Orleans themed party is figuratively, a ‘jambalaya’ of the senses. It is a feast of sight, sound, and taste, with the idyllic courtyard of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art serving as the vibrant French Quarter. Celebrating their 35th anniversary and recent release of their new album “Twenty Dozen” the Dirty Dozen Brass Band revs up the party with fast-tempo, high-octane performances. Taking the lead with incorporating funk and bebop into the traditional New Orleans style, the Band’s signature is playing genre-bending romps, including a variety of jazz, New Orleans R&B, Jazz fusion, funk and soul.
The celebratory night starts at 6:30 pm and caps four engrossing days of the Festival.
“As an emerging center for the practice, study and presentation of contemporary art, the Art of Our Time, the Ringling Museum is taking bold steps to bring to Southwest Florida innovative, edgy, and dynamic works created by artists that are shaping trends in contemporary art,” remarked Steven High, executive director of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. “The Ringling International Arts Festival is a community celebration where audiences have the opportunity to experience the best artistic talent in the world. This year’s RIAF lineup shapes up to be exciting.”
For more information about these and other 2012 RIAF productions, visit www.ringlingartsfestival.org