by Julian Ehrlich, ’17
George Lopez, Bowdoin’s Beckwith Artist-in-Residence, has played at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, but especially enjoys performing concerts in museums. “Museum concerts offer me an amazing opportunity to expand my own understanding, and maybe through my own passion for the arts, […] contribute to [my audience’s] appreciation for the arts,” remarked Lopez during our recent conversation in Studzinski Recital Hall.
His connection to audiences in the intimate setting of a museum is part of why Lopez loves to perform. After seeing the Rotunda at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and envisioning the acoustic potential of a concert in that space, Lopez proposed the idea to museum staff. Thus began the “Music in the Museum” series, a vibrant expression of Lopez’s love for the arts.
Lopez’s passion for performing at the Museum is not solely due to the acoustics in the Rotunda, which in his own words are “glorious,” but also reflect his development as a performing artist. Lopez fondly remembers piano and harpsichord lessons with his mentor Rosalyn Tureck, during which she would instruct him to use the art objects and artifacts in her apartment to “highlight some specific idea [or] aesthetic.” This exercise triggered his interest in using art to accompany and amplify his performance. For Lopez, a concert has done its job if it can stimulate the audience member’s imagination, “make their spirit light,” and move their bodies with sound. In order to bridge the gap between often-disparate works of art and music, Lopez embarks on what he describes as an “intellectual adventure,” researching musicians and artists to develop a cohesive and evocative concert program.
Lopez is currently researching a new concert in conjunction with the upcoming exhibition, Past Futures: Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas. The performance will be focused on “the idea of the alien in music history” as well as “the importance of technology in the development of music and its relationship to sci-fi film.” Lopez plans focus on Mary Shelley and her groundbreaking work, Frankenstein, commonly understood as the first true work of science fiction, as well as other, more recent works. Lopez is excited for his audience “to walk away with some sense of the arc of science fiction. So much of what seemed improbable or impossible, has actually come to be,” effused Lopez during our recent conversation, a reflection of his excitement for this upcoming concert.
Julian Ehrlich, Bowdoin Class of 2017
Communications Assistant, Bowdoin College Museum of Art