Britt Conley’s Stained Glass with Interactive Musical Light Experience: a concert with Virginia Bronze!

An incredible journey…

Britt Conley's Stained Glass and light show with Virginia Bronze at the National Masonic Temple. Photo by Forrest MacCormack
Britt Conley’s Stained Glass and light show with Virginia Bronze at the National Masonic Temple. Photo by Forrest MacCormack

MUSIC VISUALIZED IN STAINED GLASS FOR “MYSTIC AND MAJESTIC” CONCERT BY VIRGINIA BRONZE

It was a year in the making and an amazing artistic journey!  In June of 2016 I began talks with Virginia Bronze on collaborating for their season finale.  The concert: Mystical and Majestic would be taking place at the George Washington Memorial Masonic Temple in Alexandria Virginia.  Putting any of my music paintings on the stage didn’t seem logistically sound.  How would they bit lit?  How would they be seen from afar?   While attending their concert for thier 2016 season, attempting how we could artistically unify a cohesive sound and visual experience, it came flooding in.  The  clarity and beauty of the bells reminded me of glass. By the concerts’a end,  I was envisioning working on large-scale glass works and providing an interactive light show that would correspond to the music, done live, during the concert.  All was soon set and I set out to learn how to work in both of these new mediums.  Even with this vision and the determination to see it through, I knew nothing about either medium and spent the next months in beginner classes, researching and gathering resources.

Real size sketch for Stained Glass Lux Aeterna. By Britt Conley
Real size sketch for Stained Glass Lux Aeterna. By Britt Conley

 

 

 

 

 

From first sketch to laying the glass down. Working on my first Stained Glass.
From first sketch to laying the glass down. Working on my first Stained Glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before long the glass was taking shape and things began moving along.

Learning to solder and make it happen. Photo by JImmy Powers.
Learning to solder and make it happen. Photo by JImmy Powers.
The final Lux Aeterna by Britt Conley
The final Lux Aeterna by Britt Conley
The Stained Glass representation of Lux Aeterna is in the stand! Beautiful stand by 'Tex' Forrest.
The Stained Glass representation of Lux Aeterna is in the stand! Beautiful stand by ‘Tex’ Forrest. This work, the Lux Asterna,  is based on ‘God’s Light’ and is part of the Catholic mass.  The religious nature of the music encouraged the design.  As for the overall feel, It seemed best to create a work that one could picture in a house of worship and also embrace the natural math of the universe.  I’ve added small dark blue pieces within the rays to represent the music that is infused the light.

The next work was the Firebird Suite

This is one of my favorite personal pieces.  It’s difficult to represent the extraordinary energy throughout Stravinsky’s work, in any medium, but especially in glass.  In an attempt to capture the fiery rhythm and geometric structure of his finale, I created three glass panels.  The top acts as a structural capstone.  The middle panel presents the first half of the main musical phrasing for the finale, while the lower panel illustrates the answering second half of that melody.

Stravinsky's Firebird Suite by Britt Conley
Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite by Britt Conley

 

I really love this one and finding the right glass took a long time.  I also had to learn how up my skill level to even pull this off.  The final is over five feet between it’s three panels.

Working on Stravinsky's Firebird Suite
Working on Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite
Working on Stravinsky's Firebird Suite.
Working on Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.
Final Stravinsky in it stand : )

While I was working on this I began my kickstarter campaign to raise the funds neede to finish the glass and get the lighting in house.

Below is a video I made to help raise awareness of our efforts:

https://spark.adobe.com/video/zUCv0o114ny3i/

Light boxes for the stained glass.
Light boxes for the stained glass.
Oddly, learning how to do stained glass for the first time is not as hard as learning how to create lighting. Now this is a rather large learning curve.
Oddly, learning how to do stained glass for the first time is not as hard as learning how to create lighting. Now this is a rather large learning curve.

Not only did I need stands, but lightboxes as well.  The entire premise needed the lighting behind the glass.  Thanks to Tex Forrest the light boxes were made to order and perfect!

The thrid piece is Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral.

Debussy's Sunken Cathedral by Britt Conley
Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral by Britt Conley

Debussy formulated his Sunken Cathedral on a myth about a great towering cathedral, which on rare, clear, morning sunrises, rises up from the depths of the sea.  Envisioning both the serene, clear beauty of the water with the forced swirling turmoil resulting from the cathedrals rise helped focus my glass choices.  The cathedral itself is placed within the glass as a drawing.

Debussy's Sunken Cathedral in progress. By Britt Conley
Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral in progress. By Britt Conley

 

 

Another lovely aspect of glass is how much it changes one the light is added.

Debussy's Sunken Cathedral by Britt Conley
Debussy’s Sunken Cathedral by Britt Conley
Britt Conley's Stained Glass while testing the lighting
Britt Conley’s Stained Glass while testing the lighting

The last work was Great Gate of Kiev

Mussorgsky's Great Gate of Kiev by Britt Conley
Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev by Britt Conley

Victor Hartmann’s watercolor exhibit inspired Mussorgsky to create Pictures at an Exhibition.  The Great Gate of Kiev is the final movement of the piece.  The work opens with a towering gong and chimes, moving effortlessly into the main amassed phrasing melody.  Although I only represent this first theme, I decided to imbue the linear structure of each section of the first chordal moments with all the color of their resonance.

Mussorgsky's Great Gate of Kiev by Britt Conley - with lights
Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev by Britt Conley – with lights
Mussorgsky's Great Gate of Kiev by Britt Conley - with lights
Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev by Britt Conley – with lights

The concert was wonderful and recieved a very nice write up by Sue Bowers: http://thezebra.org/britt-conleys-stained-glass-work-shines-at-virginia-bronze-community-handbell-ensemble-concert/

The final Concert took place at the Workhouse Arts Center on the 17th of June, 2017.

 

 

 

 

I could not have done it without all the support of my kickstarter supporters:

A very special thanks to following wonderful people, who donated to my Kickstarter.  All the art for this project will be able to come to fruition, due to your help. I can’t thank each of you enough. Thankyou sooo much!

Mark Anderson/ Linda Malmgren/ Jessica Gardner / Sarah Liberatore / Lisa Eckstein / Tim Rizer / Lura Bovee / Erika Malmgren / Camille Henry /  Harald Malmgren / Nataliya Gurshman / Lynn Goldstein / D’Arcy Dean / Stephen Kohashi / Forrest MacCormack /  Bikki Stricker / Betsy Preston / Kathryn Long / Marsali Hancock / Sidney Underwood / Nancy Buchholz / Kevin Pace / Michael Rhode / Helene Vonnegut / Egidio Sabbadini / Danielle Carbonneau / Cheryl Smart / Sophie Giana / Orit Friedland / Mark Weaver / Andrew McLeod / Jeff Morrell / Alain Lewis / William Schran / Sharon Rose Hayward / Steve Conley

As well as a phenomenal team: Tex Forrest, Nathan Devonshyre and Jim Davis.  A special thanks goes out to Jimmy Powers and Weisser Glass for all your support and helpful advice.

Britt Conley, working the concert at the Workhouse Arts Center
Britt Conley, working the concert at the Workhouse Arts Center
Britt Conley's Stained Glass and light show with Virginia Bronze at The Workhouse Arts Center 6/17/17
Britt Conley’s Stained Glass and light show with Virginia Bronze at The Workhouse Arts Center 6/17/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the first life of these stained glass have lived, the next is to get them into galleries. I’m currently getting the promised items made and off to the kickstarter family.  I’m also working on the other comission that I have had for some time and working on two new shows happening in the coming months, left in the year : )  More on those in future blog posts.

 

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