Symmetrical Lives

Symmetrical Lives brings together five musicians and a choreographer (C. Neil Parsons) with deep roots in classical music as well as a history of adventurous interdisciplinary collaborations.  Symmetrical Lives is an innovative production of J. S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite in B-minor, which premiered as a short film on October 29, 2021, as part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Balcony Bar From Home Series here.  In 2022, the team created a live, in-person production of Symmetrical Lives, which premiered at the Harlem School of the Arts with support from a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.  On October 14, 2023, Symmetrical Lives will be performed at the New York Botanical Garden as part of Vanishing Art: A Living Gallery.

View the full film version here, and read on below for more about the project and personnel:

Here are highlights of the live staged premiere in 2022:

And you can watch the entire live staged premiere here:

Here is a peek behind the scenes in this interview with Lawler, Cerar and Parsons, as part of The Fourth Wall Ensemble’s Saturday Showtime Series:

Meet the creative team behind Symmetrical Lives:

Zara Lawler, flute, bio is here.

Violinist Maja Cerar‘s repertoire ranges from the Baroque to the present, including performances with live electronics, theater and dance. Since her debut in the Zürich Tonhalle in 1991, she has performed internationally as a soloist with orchestras and given recitals with distinguished artists.  She has played at festivals such as the Davos “Young Artist in Concert,” Gidon Kremer’s Lockenhaus Festival, the International Society for Contemporary Music’s World Music Days in Ljubljana, the International Computer Music Conference  (Singapore, Barcelona, New York, Texas), the Society for Electroacoustic Music in the United States conference (Texas, Arizona, Florida, Boston), the “Viva Vivaldi” festival in Mexico City, and numerous others. In 2016, she was the featured performer at the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival, an event of the New York Philharmonic Biennial. Her collaborative works have been featured at the “Re:New Frontiers of Creativity” symposium celebrating the 250th anniversary of Columbia University and “Listening in the Sound Kitchen” festival at Princeton University.  Since 2014 she has also created her own works, fostered by The Tribeca Film Institute’s “Tribeca Hacks” and by the Future Music Lab at the Atlantic Music Festival, involving robotics and wearable motion sensors.

Choreographer Neil Parsons is a bass trombonist, dancer/choreographer, and actor/director, best-known for blending his talents in new interdisciplinary works, particularly with his hybrid arts ensemble The Fourth Wall. Extensive touring has taken him to 40 states, with appearances at performing arts centers, festivals, schools, university residencies, and with symphony orchestras. He has directed numerous productions, from Shakespeare to contemporary plays and musical theater, for interdisciplinary and experimental ensembles such as Tales&Scales, Lawler+Fadoul, Early Music in Motion, the Bloomington Playwrights Project, and the Boston Conservatory Hybrid Arts Ensemble.  Neil is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory of Music (where he declared an individual major in Interdisciplinary Performance & Education), and Boston Conservatory at Berklee (MM ’17 Contemporary Classical Music Performance). Neil is an Instructor of Theater for the Conservatory’s Contemporary Theater BFA Program.

Violinist Rebecca Fischer is sought after as an expressive, intuitive performer. As the 1st violinist of the Chiara Quartet for 18 years, she held residencies at Harvard and the Met Museum. She is known for her interdisciplinary work as half of the duo The Afield, with artist Anthony Hawley.  Fischer teaches at the Mannes School of Music, is a Director of Greenwood Music Camp, and has a book of essays coming out in 2022. She studied at Columbia and Juilliard. 

Violist Colin Brookes is a founding member of the Ulysses Quartet. Colin holds a BM from the Juilliard School along with a MM and AD from Yale Univ. Former teachers include Ettore Causa, Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, Marylene Gingras-Roy, Roger Chase, Jeffrey Irvine, and Carolyn Hills.  Brookes performs regularly with The Knights, A Far Cry, and other critically acclaimed ensembles.

Cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach has performed at Marlboro, Aspen, Bridgehampton, La Musica, and Caramoor Summer Music, and was guest artist with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  Gerlach studied at Yale and Juilliard. She recorded the Franck and Rachmaninoff Sonatas for Encore Performance label.