A reliquary is the container that holds a sacred relic or relics. The ballet Reliquary is a tribute to George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky, and their 43 year collaboration. In 1974, three years after Stravinsky's death, the composer's widow, Vera, gave Charles Wuorinen permission to incorporate a few of her late husband's unpublished musical fragments (a little more than a minute of music) into a new work. According to Wuorinen, his resultant orchestral piece is a "work to Stravinsky's honor. The composition is almost entirely mine, but does incorporate the fragments in 'fleshed-out' and finished form, as well as certain passages in which I imitate Stravinsky's latest manner. The work expresses my love for his music and my debt to him as a composer."
Mr. Martins's choreography follows the same approach. "I, too, have taken my 'direction' from Balanchine's esthetics," he says. "The ballet is a bow to him, whose work I so admired, and to whom I am so indebted." The ballet, for 25 dancers, is filled with sweeping diagonals, shifting patterns, and intricate duets. Astute viewers will see quotes from Agon, Episodes, The Four Temperaments, Symphony in Three Movements, and other Balanchine masterpieces.