For Immediate Release
Seattle New Music Ensemble
with special guest Maria Sampen, violin
"Quartet for the End of Time" by Olivier Messiaen
"The Blood Concerti" by Forrest Pierce (three concerti written for SNME
featuring, cello, violin, flute, and marimba)
Saturday, May 15th 2004 7:30 PM
St. Ignatius Chapel
Seattle University Campus
10th and Madison
Free will donation at the door (recommended at $15 by the university) and
general admission once admitted.
Brad Hawkins 206.417.5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Laibman, Flute
Jesse Canterbury, Clarinet
David Reeves, Percussion
Melissa Plagemann, Piano
Steve Creswell, Violin
Brad Hawkins, Cello
The Center for Campus Ministries at Seattle University presents the third in
its series of special concerts with the appearance of The Seattle New Music
Ensemble, Saturday, May 15th at 7:30 PM at St. Ignatius Chapel.
Included on the program is the Seattle Premiere of Forrest Pierce's "Blood
Concerti", three concerti for Cello, Violin, and Flute and Marimba together,
written in Fall 2003 and based upon poems by Rilke. These hyper-tonal
concerti pit the performers in quick interchange reminiscent of Greek
theater and contain wonderful heterophony. Enjoy.
Olivier Messiaen's most famous, captivating, and successful piece, "Quartet
for the End of Time" can be summed up below. The piece was written early in
WWII in a Nazi POW camp while the young French conscript was interned there.
It makes this author wonder what great works of art might be gestating in
camp X-Ray. Suffice it to say, this great artistic testament speaks not only
to the Biblical text on which it is based but to the horrors of war and of a
world turned upside down.
More reading on "Quartet for the End of Time"
Exerpted from Program notes by Elaine Chew
According to the composer, the Quartet was intended not to be a commentary
on the Apocalypse, nor to refer to his own captivity, but to be a kind of
musical extension of the Biblical account, and of the concept of the end of
Time as the end of past and future and the beginning of eternity. For
Messiaen there was also a musical sense to the angel's announcement. His
development of a varied and flexible rhythmic system, based in part on
ancient Hindu rhythms, came to fruition in the Quartet, where more or less
literally Messiaen put an end to the equally measured "time" of western
The architecture of the Quartet is both musical and mystical. There are
eight movements because God rested on the seventh day after creation, a day
which extended into the eighth day of timeless eternity. There are intricate
thematic relationships, as for example between movements two and seven, both
of which are about the angel; and stylistic and theological relationships,
as between movements five and eight.
In a preface to the score, Messiaen commented on each of the movements:
Liturgy of crystal. Between three and four o'clock in the morning,
the awakening of the birds: a blackbird or a solo nightingale
improvises, surrounded by efflorescent sound, by a halo of trills
lost high in the trees...
Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of Time. The first
and third parts (very short) evoke the power of this mighty angel,
a rainbow upon his head and clothed with a cloud, who sets one
foot on the sea and one foot on the earth. In the middle section
are the impalpable harmonies of heaven. In the piano, sweet
cascades of blue-orange chords, enclosing in their distant chimes
the almost plainchant song of the violin and violoncello.
Abyss of the birds. Clarinet alone. The abyss is Time with its
sadness, its weariness. The birds are the opposite to Time; they
are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for
Interlude. Scherzo, of a more individual character than the other
movements, but linked to them nevertheless by certain melodic
Praise to the Eternity of Jesus. Jesus is considered here as the
Word. A broad phrase, infinitely slow, on the violoncello,
magnifies with love and reverence the eternity of the Word,
powerful and gentle, ... "In the beginning was the Word, and Word
was with God, and the Word was God."
Dance of fury, for the seven trumpets. Rhythmically, the most
characteristic piece in the series. The four instruments in unison
take on the aspect of gongs and trumpets (the first six trumpets
of the Apocalypse were followed by various catastrophes, the
trumpet of the seventh angel announced the consummation of the
mystery of God). Use of added [rhythmic] values, rhythms augmented
or diminished... Music of stone, of formidable, sonorous granite...
A mingling of rainbows for the Angel who announces the end of
Time. Certain passages from the second movement recur here. The
powerful angel appears, above all the rainbow that covers him...
In my dreams I hear and see a catalogue of chords and melodies,
familiar colours and forms... The swords of fire, these
outpourings of blue-orange lava, these turbulent stars...
Praise to the Immortality of Jesus. Expansive solo violin,
counterpart to the violoncello solo of the fifth movement. Why
this second encomium? It addresses more specifically the second
aspect of Jesus, Jesus the Man, the Word made flesh... Its slow
ascent toward the most extreme point of tension is the ascension
of man toward his God, of the child of God toward his Father, of
the being made divine toward Paradise.