An epic journey of struggle and sacrifice.
Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, Juilliard alumni and Billboard chart-topping pianists, tread uncharted territory with their cinematic reimagining of one of history's most monumental compositions. The Rite of Spring: A Musical Odyssey fuses a ferocious dueling piano performance with an epic tale of soul-searching and survival, culminating in the sacrificial destruction of a 140-year-old organ.
The DVD includes the complete film in addition to "Chronicles of the Rite," a 30-minute documentary featuring interviews with Anderson & Roe and behind-the-scenes footage.
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The Rite of Spring: A Musical Odyssey defies conventional description, much like the music on which this film is based. Yes, it is a large-scale music video based on The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky’s masterful ballet and one of the seminal artistic creations of all time, but it is equally a meditation on the warring impulses of the human condition, the tenuous nature of reality, and the incendiary rush of creation. Stravinsky’s trailblazing composition has compelled us to push ourselves to the hilt—conceptually, physically, emotionally—and to test the parameters of our creativity and willpower.
One of the definitive works in the entire musical repertoire, The Rite of Spring represents a rite of passage for classical performers; it is a veritable musical Everest. Always hungry for a challenge, we first learned this work (in Stravinsky’s own fiendishly difficult four-hand piano version) a decade ago as college students at Juilliard; since then, we have performed this piece well over a hundred times, and it has become a signature staple in our concert career as a piano duo. When we perform the “Rite,” it fills our veins with adrenaline, overwhelms our senses, and takes our breath away every single time.
At its 1913 premiere in Paris, the “Rite” provoked a riot of legendary proportions. Fast forward 100 years: this masterwork continues to electrify with its savage rhythms, harmonic daring, and mythic weightiness. Narratively based on the rituvals performed by a pagan tribe to win the benevolence of the god of spring, the piece culminates with the offering of a young virgin who dances herself to death. Yet beyond the sensational narrative of primitive sacrifice, this work encapsulates the tumultuous climate of a world on the eve of the Great War. In our own complex times, when violence, conflict, and chaos still permeate the globe, the “Rite” strikes a frighteningly resonant chord.
In the composition’s centennial year, we felt inspired to bring the visceral power, timeless relevancy, and symbolic depth of the “Rite” to a new medium: the big screen. To that end, we let our imaginations go haywire in an effort to translate the mad imagery evoked by the music. This project has sparked within us a nearly obsessive devotion every step of the way, from extensive brainstorming sessions on tour to sleepless nights in the editing room. For the sake of the film we destroyed a valuable nineteenth-century organ, plunged into the waters of the Pacific in the middle of the night, traversed the scorching desert clad in tribal masks and heavy robes, threw buckets of colored paint at each other, had millipedes crawl over our hands, and literally played with fire. We went to these extreme lengths because we ultimately had no other choice: we had to stay true to the raw immediacy, colossal scope, and archetypal vision of the music. The genius of Stravinsky’s “Rite” demanded the sacrifice of our comfort zone, awakening us to startling new levels of audacity and awareness.
- Greg Anderson & Elizabeth Joy Roe
Chronicles of the Rite: 5-min Excerpt
Action on repeat
Enjoy! Some of the most action-packed, over-the-top, piano-related GIFs on the web, perfect for memes, Facebook, and more.
An opinion piece by Anderson & Roe featuring an entertaining account of the naked ocean shoot which resulted in the loss of Greg's large toenail.
Greg's craft cocktail recipes created to enjoy alongside Stravinsky's visceral and raw Rite of Spring.