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A wide-ranging musical homage to Mark Rothko’s paintings

The performing arts have not yet finished with Mark Rothko.

In recent years, Arena Stage and other theaters across the country have staged productions of “Red,” John Logan’s popular play about the abstract expressionist. Now a Latvian jazz group is paying musical homage to the artist. On April 29 at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, the Maris Briezkalns Quintet will debut “Rothko in Jazz,” a multimedia concert that incorporates music by 10 Latvian composers.

The music responds to 10 paintings by Rothko (1903-1970), who was born in a town that is now part of Latvia. (It was part of Russia when he was born.) Quintet leader and drummer Maris Briezkalns came up with the idea for the art-themed tribute and chose the paintings, which date from 1945 to 1968. Turning to such composers as Eriks Esenvalds and Emmy-nominated Lolita Ritmanis, Briezkalns asked each one for a musical theme inspired by one of the works. “Luckily, no two composers chose the same painting,” Briezkalns said via e-mail from Riga, Latvia.

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