Graduate and undergraduate workshop for students in support of the project's long term goal of creating a performance production of Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time as a fully immersive concert experience, where the audience with the performers and actors are together enveloped inside a live video projection environment.

French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote Quartet for the End of Time during World War II, when he was captured as a prisoner-of-war in a Germany concentration camp. The work, written for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, was premiered at the outside camp grounds during the brutal February winter in 1941, by himself and his fellow prisoners, to an audience of said 3000 people consisting of prison officers and prisoners from all walks of life. While Quartet for the End of Time was created out of an environment of terror and immense suffering, Messiaen wrote a composition to which few others in the classical music repertory come close in expressing hope, joyous brilliance, and spiritual ecstasy.

Quartet for the End of Time, although written as a purely musical work, lends itself readily to a theatrical production: Messiaen details his vivid experience of sound-color synaesthesia, where he sees colors mapped to certain harmonies, in the notation throughout the work. These descriptions of synaesthesia are used to depict the ecstatic experience of the Apocalypse from the Biblical Book of Revelations and his love of bird-song. The use of live video projection in a staged production to represent Messiaen's synaesthesia and the confluence of themes and context not only intensifies the audience's experience through an inter-mixing of their senses, but also promotes the understanding of the neuro-physiological condition of synaesthesia that is often dismissed because of its highly-individualized experience.



Affiliated Faculty

Jocelyn Ho, Assistant Professor of Performance Studies, Herb Alpert School of Music; Michael Hackett, Professor, Theater; Carol Bakhos, Professor, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and Director, Center for the Study of Religion.





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