MUSE/IQUE was born two years ago as a “counter conventional orchestra.” The maestra, Rachael Worby, answers some questions posed by Hometown Pasadena’s Julia Harm.
What is the driving force behind MUSE/IQUE?
RW: The audience is the driving force behind MUSE/IQUE. Our MUSE/IQUE members are adventurous. When we started, we saw an opportunity to do something truly counter-conventional because there was a hunger out there for live music events that would challenge our curiosity and uncover new possibilities. We began with a few bold ideas—improving venues in public spaces and working warehouses, mashing up the world’s best artists from classical to rock, jazz and contemporary genres, and taking an irreverent approach to constructing repertoire. But the power to do it really comes from an audience that inspires and demands that we try new things. We have a growing membership base, and I think our members feel like they own the risk-taking. Pasadena and the surrounding communities are unique in the world in terms of the dynamic and diverse urban interplay – there’s energy here and our audiences are proud of that and curious to see how that can be reflected in the course of live music events. The idea of MUSE/IQUE is the idea of a whole city as a creative palette for live events.
Why this project right now?
I love conducting. It is like breathing for me—it keeps me alive and vital. At this stage in my career, however, I wasn’t looking for another straight conducting gig. Making music within the frame of great non-profit art organizations has been the work of my life. But the traditional orchestral field is searching for answers right now while striving for relevance, new audiences and funding. I was at a point in my life where I’d contributed all that I could in the traditional circles, and I am lucky enough to be in a place where I could try something completely new aimed at the issues that are facing our field. And to be able to do that in this community that I love, Pasadena, in partnership with and inspired by amazing audiences – is too good to be true!
Tell me about this upcoming season, thematically?
We are ending the 2012/13 season with our 2013 Summer of Sound, which is about the interplay of expectations when your senses get involved. Our eyes and ears sometimes write scripts for our perceptions to follow. Sometimes that’s a good thing and, sometimes, we miss some beauty when we look and listen in the traditional way. This summer, we’re building a program that is all about listening with new ears and seeing with new eyes – and going deep inside an unexpected repertoire to accomplish that. Featured in our finale this summer, for example, is with the most amazing soul performer you’ll ever see, Ellis Hall, who just happens to be blind. We want to get inside his experience of the
music. There’s also an interplay of adventure versus perfection – a constant torture for artists – that runs through the summer programming. One of the things I am truly jazzed about this summer are the links we’re exploring between Freddie Mercury of Queen and Paganini. It’s a wildly apt comparison that you have to come to the concerts to experience. I’m never sure how much of this construction the audience sees—but I know they’ll feel it in the work of Patti Austin, Matt Haimovitz, Ellis Hall and our orchestra.
After the summer, we launch the 2013/14 season, beginning October 14 with a performance of songs from the Beatles’ “White Album” at Pasadena’s Rose Palace, where they decorate the Rose Parade floats. The juxtaposition is all about transcendence, and we’ll be playing with themes of transcendence and escape in all kinds of ways throughout MUSE/IQUE’s Uncorked Series and in next year’s 2014 Summer of Sound.
How can people help, beyond attending?
MUSE/IQUE is a membership-based organization. We need members. MUSE/IQUE is a new idea and a growing member base is a sign that people believe in what we’re doing—that they want us to push musical and artistic boundaries further.
Is there anything you would like to add or have mentioned?
The challenge with MUSE/IQUE is that it is really impossible for me to tell you what a MUSE/IQUE experience is like. You have to be there to experience it with us. And we find that people who come feel invested and want more.
MUSE/IQUE’s Summer of Sound:
Lost in the Stars with Patti Austin
Saturday, June 29th, 7:30 p.m.
Moving Pictures with Cellist Matt Haimovitz
Saturday, July 27th, 7:30 p.m.
Lost Your Senses with Ellis Hall
Saturday, Aug. 17th, 7:30 p.m.
Details for all shows:
Mingling, picknicking at 5:30; show begins at 7:30
Show runs 90 minutes
Beckman Mall Lawn, Caltech
332 S. Michigan Ave., Pasadena 91106
Tickets from $35 to $96
Complete info at muse-ique.com