at the Philharmonic
A special live performance of LASERIUM effects accompanied the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra as they played "Prometheus: Poem of Fire" by the Russian Composer Alexander Scriabin, at Dorothy Chandler Pavillion January 16th, 18th and 19th, 2002.
Scriabin was perhaps the first modern exponent of multimedia, or, if you will, a light show choreographed to music. He had developed a scale to match specific colors to notes in an octave, in his belief that there was a direct and quantifiable correspondence between wavelengths of light and sound.
In keeping with Scriabin's original score for Prometheus, which contained a line for a light instrument, LASERIUM provided laser effects to accompany these performances. As Scriabin intended, these effects were performed live by "Laserist" Steve Shapiro, who has served in that capacity at Griffith Observatory as well as at Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco.
Unlike the displays usually associated with lasers, Steve employed two full-color Krypton/Argon Lasers in a MIDI-controlled LASERIUM CSL Projector to fill the screen with "Lumia", or laser clouds-effects consisting of "interference patterns" - which were pioneered in the 1920s (a decade after Scriabin's death) by light artist Thomas Wilfred, who coined the term. If Scriabin could have been availed of this technology in his performances of Prometheus, he might have realized his unfulfilled dream of achieving a true synesthesia in marrying color to music. Instead, his light instrument failed in what was to be the crowning presentation at Carnegie Hall.
This was not the first association of LASERIUM with Scriabin. In 1972 we were commissioned by the late pianist and Scriabin champion, Hilde Somer, to produce a film of similar lumia effects edited and timed to her performances of many of Scriabin's numerous piano works. The film was projected above and behind her piano in her international tours of high schools and colleges.
The ultimate expression of Scriabin's vision was to be a multimedia extravaganza presented to a multi-national multitude over several days at the foot of the Himalayas to usher in a "New Age". Entitled "The Mysterium", the work was incomplete at the time of his passing, three-quarters of a century before son-et-lumiere performances on a grand scale were undertaken by "New Age" instrumentalists, Jean Michel Jarré and Vangelis - albeit still dwarfed by Scriabin's monumental schema.
For the first time, the laserist was a featured performer, on stage in white tie and tails. Lumias were projected on a giant rear-projection screen filling the back of the Chandler Pavillion behind the entire orchestra.
Ivan Dryer, President, Laserium
Contact: Ivan Dryer