I have really enjoyed my association with Stratford Summer Music over the past five years, which always starts with devising a season poster concept. Music is the most abstract of the performing arts (there’s no text to work with, like there is with a theatre poster), so a visual metaphor is required to convey some overview idea of the programming, or a theme that ties the programming together. Sometimes there’s an obvious choice (that full moon for the 2018 season!), but more often it’s something unexpected.
I had a couple of conversations in August and September with Mark Fewer, looking ahead to the 2019 season. Mark wanted his first poster to focus on youth. He was fascinated by children (even babies) encountering the world of music for the first time — “sounds and sweet airs that give delight” to quote from The Tempest. Miranda’s “O, brave new world” seemed a perfect description of Mark’s artistic vision for his first season.
I had done some very rough sketches for a SSM poster a few years ago — a girl, eyes closed, with a bird perched on her finger and singing into her ear. It felt like a half-baked idea and I discarded it — but here was an opportunity to revisit. I got rid of her hand, which never felt right, and turned the bird into a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (the only one we get here in Ontario). Hummingbirds are the only avian species that hover — and there is no bird with a more musical name! Seeing a hummingbird in my garden, or feeling one zoom past my ear, always lifts my spirits — a magical close encounter with nature. I worked with an eleven-year-old model, and used colour as a visual representation of what she's hearing.
- Scott McKowan, Punch & Judy