Live music makes paintings dance onscreen

Artist Natasha Turovsky sets her paintings and drawings to the music of miniatures in the ONG concert June 8 at Salle Claude Champagne. (Heather Solomon photo)

A woman in a fabulous gown walks her chicken. A polka-dotted giraffe with its long neck topped by a human head wearing a crown, picks its way past an opera house.

Wildly imaginative creatures, half-human and part animal or bird, some on wheels, trundle, weave and fly past, approach and fade.

Projected on a screen behind the 11 standing musicians of the Orchestre Nouvelle Génération (ONG), they match the musical pace and tone of playful, sometimes comical and periodically wistful miniatures by six great composers. It’s an aural and visual feast.

This isn’t the first pairing of Natasha Turovsky’s paintings with classical music but she’s previously contained them to the compositions of one composer at a time.

After she transitioned from professional violinist to artist, she reinvented Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition for her father Yuli Turovsky’s I Musici chamber group, with which she played. A concurrent display of the canvases during a concert later morphed into their animation on a screen behind the musicians and a genre was born.

This time her efforts are for the ONG of which she is artistic director and the June 8 concert at 7:30 p.m. at Salle Claude Champagne, 220 Vincent d’Indy Ave., is titled Visions Fugitives: Tableaux Dansants after Sergei Prokofiev’s miniature pieces.

Joining Prokofiev’s pieces on the program are the miniatures of J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky and Dmitri Shostakovich.

“It was quite a long job to decide which ones and how to put them together. In total there are around 35 miniatures in the concert, one very different from the other, the shortest being 40 seconds, the longest 3-1/2 minutes,” says Turovsky.
“It may be hard to play big pieces but it’s also hard to play short pieces. Each note is a much bigger responsibility and by mixing together so many compositions, there are different changes in mood and the musicians have to achieve each of them in a very short time. They aren’t repetitive. Each has something else to say.”

The images came to Turovsky when she “began what I call ‘drawing out loud’, which is drawing while listening to music.”

Turovsky created 200 drawings in blue ink with water wash that were directly inspired by the miniatures. The major oil-with-charcoal paintings are mostly pre-existing, including Turovsky’s unforgettable Parade de Mode that inspired the artist to create even more bizarre fashions to file down the catwalk.

“Then came the fun with Svetlana,” says the artist. Svetlana Migdissova is a journalist and video animator who digitally isolated the figures from the backgrounds of Turovsky’s paintings as well as from the white paper of her drawings.

She then manipulated them into cinematic movement that complements their whimsical appearances, like having a figure fly by using his scarf for wings.

The approximately hour-long concert has no conductor, with the musicians taking their cues from the next score flashed on screen at the start of each section. The ONG core members who make up the ensemble are accustomed to reading one another and working as a unit, thereby able to meet the challenge of the delightfully quirky quilt-work program.

The entire effect is one of the imagination run wild, allowing adults to indulge their playful side.


Turovsky’s paintings have enchanted collectors across the art world and her agent holds regular exhibitions of her work in Florida and soon in his new Beverly Hills gallery.

The current concert is presented in collaboration with Les Saisons Russes de Montréal Festival, the annual Slavic cultural showcase. A 7 p.m. pre-concert featuring young musicians age 14 and under launches the evening. Tickets are at 514-587-2477, or