Tribute inspires listeners

The Kaleidoscope Chamber series concert last Sunday featured a celebration of the 100th birthday of composer Olivier Messiaen, pictured above in 1945.By Cathleen Leitch

Nothing brings Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses together like the love of music and performing it for an audience.

The Westminster Conservatory, located on the Westminster Choir College campus, continued its annual Kaleidoscope Chamber series last Sunday, Nov. 2, in Gill Chapel on the Lawrenceville campus.

The conservatory is a community music school with students of all ages. This series of concerts is dedicated to chamber music and includes four separate shows throughout the year. Each concert is performed by several faculty members of the conservatory. The performances are held on the Lawrenceville campus to unite the two campuses with music.

The Kaleidoscope series is separated into three shows. This year’s second concert was a celebration of the 100th birthday of the composer Olivier Messiaen, who wrote the primary piece of the show, “Quatuor pour la fin du Temps.”

The final piece, “The Deepest Desire: Four Meditations of Love,” was written by Sister Helen Prejean and composed by Jake Heggie.

This episode in the series is also important because it commemorates the Night of Broken Glass, also known as Kristallnacht.

During Kristallnacht, Nazi soldiers in Germany invaded Jewish communities and destroyed many businesses, houses and synagogues. Thousands of Jews were captured and deported to ghettos or concentration camps.

The concert opened up with “Sonata for Cello and Piano,” a solely instrumental four-song set written by Erwin Schulhoff just after World War II began. Melissa Burton Anderson played the cello and was accompanied by pianist Clipper Erickson.

The composer of this piece was held in a concentration camp in Bavaria, where he passed away. The first song, “Frisch,” began with fast music that was light and happy. Midway through the song, the music turned dark and depressing, with heavy piano notes and lissssghter cello music.

The second song was a mournful, yet tranquil piece entitled “Langsam and Getragen.” “Fliessend, im Tempo di Menuetto” was another uplifting piece played with a fast tempo. The final song, “Rondo-Munter,” had higher piano tones and low cello notes.

The next part of the concert was composed of poetry written by a nun with music added by Heggie. The performers for this set were Jill Crawford on flute and Akiko Hosaki on the piano, with soprano Nancy Froysland Hoerl providing the vocals. It began with a prelude entitled “The Call.”

Next was a song called “More is Required” followed by a piece known as “I Catch on Fire.” This song depicts an actual event when the sister caught on fire as well as symbolizes her feeling when praying to God. “The Deepest Desire” is a song about her desire to please her Lord as best she could. The set ended with “Primary Colors,” the shortest piece in “The Deepest Desire.”

The last and longest composition was “Quatuor pour la fin du Temps.” This was written by Messiaen while he was a prisoner of war in a concentration camp in Silesia.

The first performance of this composition was in 1941 in the camp itself. There are eight songs within the set using only four instruments: piano, cello, clarinet and violin.

The faculty members playing in this piece were Lenuta Ciulei on violin, Kenneth Ellison on clarinet, Anderson on cello and Erickson on piano. Even though the set was entirely instrumental, the audience could understand just what Messiaen felt when writing each song.

The series will continue with the next performance in the Bristol Chapel on Nov. 15.

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