Choreographing a conductor, with Maestro Peter Bay and Allison Orr

Guest blogger: Dianne Donovan, KMFA-FM announcer and host of Classical Austin

Solo Symphony — A Dance by Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay with Forklift Danceworks (July 12-14) Choreography by Allison Orr/Music by Graham Reynolds

Is it a dance? “Yes,” says choreographer Allison Orr…”movement in time and space.” A.S.O. conductor Peter Bay may not have used the word “dance” himself, but a good part of his performance was choreographed by Orr.

On opening night, for this viewer/listener, one word came to mind: ART… art, in all of its simple, complex beauty.


After studying Bay’s conducting, Orr took some of the conductor’s signature movements and embellished them for part of the “dance.” At other times, Bay was free to conduct in his usual manner…well, sort of…Bay was facing the audience with the 13-piece orchestra in between. The audience literally and figuratively saw another side of the Maestro and he certainly saw another side of his audience. I couldn’t help but think that this took a good bit of courage to be so exposed and in such an unusual setting.

The choreographed scenes were backed by beautiful ambient original music by the much-in-demand Austin composer, Graham Reynolds. At times the piano and vibraphone notes slipped one by one and drowned in a drone of strings. Reynolds also prepared orchestral reductions of works by Beethoven, Bach, and Stravinsky. Added to the mix were audio excerpts of Bay reflecting on the path that led him here… a lovely blue-based lighting scheme by Stephen Pruitt added to this dream-like work.

A toast to all involved. A toast to Orr-iginal Art!

[Choreographed Conducting with Peter Bay and Allison Orr from Stephen Pruitt on Vimeo.]

Allison Orr, Dianne Donovan, and Peter Bay in the KMFA Studios

You can still experience this!

Fri., July 13th; Sat., July 14th at 8pm
Sat., July 14th at 3pm
Rollins Studio Theatre, The Long Center

      ~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA announcer and producer of Classical Austin

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