Remember The Polar Express?
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick?
Most of us do, and even if the plot didn’t stick with us, the illustrations did. The Michigan-born artist Chris Van Allsburg’s distinct style has left a beautiful mark on children’s tales since he began creating them more than 30 years ago.
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick was published in 1984, and rather than telling us the whole story, it invites its readers (who, as with many great stories, tend to span the whole range of young to old) to use their own imaginations and invent their own tale based on 14 beautifully-detailed drawings, such as this one, (titled “A Strange Day in July”)…
…which are each accompanied by just one evocative sentence, such as this…
He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back.
Perhaps because of the enigma, this work has proliferated a number of artistic interpretations in other media, such as a musical by the lyricist Nathan Tysen; short stories by great authors like Stephen King, Gregory Maguire, Lois Lowry, and Sherman Alexie; and a classical arrangement by the Chicago conductor and composer James Stephenson.
We here at the Driehaus Museum are excited to be hosting the Chicago premiere of Stephenson’s composition, performed by the Metropolis Oboe Quartet, this Saturday, February 9, with performances at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
During a highly-interactive one-hour performance, the musicians present four Mysteries of Harris Burdick illustrations and encourage the audience to come up with their own interpretations of the adventures occurring within each, and then play the corresponding movement Stephenson was inspired to create.