Carrefour Chamber Music Project to perform 20th century musical masterpiece September 16

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The Carrefour Chamber Music Project will perform at Northwestern State University on Thursday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Magale Recital Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. Those attending are asked to follow university regulations and to wear a mask. A livestream will be available at capa.nsula.edu/livestream.

The group includes Michele Gunn on violin, David Steele on clarinet, Brett Andrews on cello and Robert Cruz on piano. Steele and Andrews are members of the music faculty at Northwestern State. They will perform “Quartet for the End of Time” by Olivier Messiaen. NSU faculty member Dr. John Dunn will present a brief pre-recital lecture about the piece.

Natchitoches Wood

The work is regarded as Messiaen’s most significant composition. It is considered not only as a masterpiece, but one of the most significant compositions of the 20th century. It was premiered in 1941 under extraordinary circumstances. Messiaen wrote the piece while he was a captive in Stalag VIII A, a German prisoner of war camp, during World War II. During his imprisonment, he also met other prisoners who were accomplished musicians: a world-class cellist, a violinist and a clarinetist, all who were performing at a professional level. Accordingly, when he wrote the quartet, he composed it for this unique set of instruments. The four prisoners performed the piece in front of an audience of mostly prisoners and guards in a prison barracks that had been converted into a makeshift theater.

The quartet is a sequence of eight movements that provide commentary from a passage in the Book of Revelations. Messiaen’s understanding of this text is not Apocalyptic or related to his personal situation as a prisoner, but to the idea of the “end of Time” as the end of the past and future and the beginning of eternity. The music exists as an extension of the Angel’s words, where time is not depicted in rhythm (like military drums or other stereotypical devices).