NCS Winter Concert Poster

Once Music Director Dr. George Case put together a beautiful winter concert program that included Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio as well as several pieces dedicated to the rose in winter, he asked my husband Josh (a playwright) and me (NCS Alto 1) to give the concert a name.  I realized that Saint-Saëns wrote his oratorio in a week, spilling effortlessly from his pen, for a special midnight Mass at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris in 1858. The Rose and the Night Star seemed the appropriate description for this program of exceptional lyricism, smooth undulating choral phrasing and a majesty as mystical as the night sky.  Creating a poster design based on the image of the rose at night, however, proved a bit more challenging.  Color is a crucial element in poster design and this would be the second poster in a row that utilized the black night sky as a background. The first was our spring concert Annalies. What other color could one use for the back of Anne Frank’s diary?


The winter rose is often associated with the color blue.  This stems from the tradition of medieval manuscript-making that used the precious grindings of the gemstone lapis lazuli for the robes of Mary and flowers associated with the miraculous birth.  But we couldn’t find a suitable image. After all, the true Christmas rose, which does bloom in winter, is not really a rose at all.  After we rejected several preliminary designs, I went back to my background in art history. We drew upon the architectural miracle of radiating spokes of stained glass windows set in a large circle at the transept of the church façade (which came to be called the “rose window” and essentially ushered in the Gothic cathedral style of staggering height, vertical tiers and elaborate ornamental tracery).  The blue rose of winter and the rose window of Gothic cathedrals were images Josh could work with, both coloristically and metaphorically to pictorialize the beauty of the music of the NCS winter program of 2017.  After all, this is what rose windows did during the Medieval Period of church architecture: make known in image what can’t exactly be put into words.


Penny Lazarus

Author: ncsadmin

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