In this January photo, members of the Brandon Chamber Players perform in the rotunda at city hall. The group’s All Souls’ Day concert — Reflection, Remembrance, Revelation — takes place on Saturday in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall at Brandon University. (FILE PHOTO)
The Brandon Chamber Players continues its 2013-14 season on Saturday with its All Souls’ Day concert — Reflection, Remembrance, Revelation.
The name draws on one of the concert’s central works, Olivier Messiaen’s "Quartet for the End of Time (1940)," composed while he was held captive in a German prisoner of war camp.
The Quartet, which contains some of the 20th century’s most stunningly ethereal music, received its premiere on a bitter January night in 1941 at the Stalag VIIIA in Görlitz, Germany.
Sitting in the front row, shivering along with several hundred prisoners, were the German officers of the camp.
As Messiaen told the story, he and three friends performed under the most trying circumstances — using dilapidated instruments, including a three-stringed cello — and won the hearts of 5,000 hardened soldiers.
Although its title conjures visions of apocalyptic proportions, the Quartet juxtaposes sprightly dance rhythms, serene melody and poignant silence, giving voice to Messiaen’s vision of paradise — beloved, expected, assured.
Many wonder how one could summon such a paradise in the midst of his unspeakable, earthly hell.
"The Quartet is one of the most spiritual works of art ever produced," pianist Kyung Kim said. "Messiaen, as a prisoner of war, based it on the most powerful and terrifying parts of Revelation from the Bible.
"It was a deeply personal artistic statement that not onlyforecast the downfall of the Nazi regime, but also spoke to Messiaen’s fervent religious convictions and beliefs that sustained him through the most trying of circumstances."
Along with Kim on piano, the work will be performed by Kerry DuWors on violin, Catherine Wood on clarinet and Leanne Zacharias on cello — all professors at Brandon University’s School of Music.
Zacharias discusses the experience of preparing and performing the work.
"To the performer,the ‘Quartet for the End of Time’ is like no other chamber work. It demands extreme physical, musical, emotional and mental stamina of all four players. The experience for us is highly metric yet timeless, powerful yet serene all at the same time. It is a totally unique and epic work."
Featured alongside the "Quartet for the End of Time" will be the world premiere of Brandon composer T. Patrick Carrabré’s "Crazy."
Written for soprano (Naomi Forman performs in this concert), piano (Mary Jo Carrabré) and electronics, the work explores a decidedly darker version of the other-worldly.
Carrabré describes the work: "‘Crazy’ is a cycle of songs growing out of the myth of Orpheus, whose musical abilities even allowed him to tame wild beasts and make stones do his bidding.
"After the death of his wife Eurydice, Orpheus convinced Hades to let him cross into the underworld to try to reclaim her. It was not a happy trip, because he lost her again on the way back."
As the work’s central theme, Carrabré explores how creative genius can lead to madness, as inspiration draws one too close to the boundary between this world and the other.
"The songs link poetry by Rilke, Tasso, and Goethe with musical fragments from ‘mad composers,’ Gesualdo (the murderer), Schumann (manic-depressive and suicidal), Berlioz (drug influenced), Grainger (who had a taste for whips and bondage) and others."
Reflection, Remembrance, Revelation takes place on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Lorne Watson Recital Hall in Brandon University’s School of Music.
Tickets — $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $10 for students — are available at the door (7:30 p.m. rush seating). However, seating is limited so advance tickets are recommended at the music school office, 204-727-9631.
And why not make it a night of food, drinks and music? Brandon Chamber Players ticket holders receive 15 per cent off their total bill (excluding alcohol) at the Dock on Princess, 1133 Princess Ave., either before or after the concert. Concert night only — must have ticket in hand.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 1, 2013