HEAR: Color

Music in a Great Space Concert: Hear Color
Sunday, October 10, 2010 
4:00 pm

Location: Shadyside Presbyterian Church (directions)
Price Range: Free - $10


MESSIAEN: Quartet for the End of Time  
TAKEMITSU: Toward the Sea


Chabala Mwelwa Artist

Introduction/Artist Statement:

Tonight’s concert marks many exciting landmarks for IonSound.  We are honored to be included on Shadyside’s Music in a Great Space Series, and we are so excited to finally be performing Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time.  In truth, we have been wanting to program this work for years, but have put it off until we could put together a collaboration that would be truly original while still honoring the spirit of this great composition.  Upon meeting Chabala Mwelwa and laying eyes on his potently colorful and wonderfully organic and abstract artwork, we knew that we had encountered the right collaborator for this project.  Messiaen viewed color as inextricably linked to the modes and chords that he choose to use in his compositions, and recorded  fantastical descriptions of these colors and their corresponding note combinations.  Chabala’s work displayed here tonight is all original, commissioned by IonSound, and inspired by these exotic color descriptions.  

IonSound Project:

Peggy Yoo, flute
Kathleen Costello, clarinet
Laura Motchalov, violin
Elisa Kohanski, cello
Rob Frankenberry, piano
Eliseo Rael, percussion

special thanks to our guest pianist for this concert, Jack Kurutz


Toward the Sea by Toru Takemitsu

I.  The Night
II.  Moby Dick
III.  Cape Cod

Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen

I.  Liturgie de cristal (Crystal Liturgy)
II.  Vocalise, pour L'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps (Vocalise for the Angel Who Announces the End of Time)
III.  Abime des oiseaux (Abyss of the Birds)
IV.  Intermede (Interlude)
V.  Louange a L'Eternite de Jesus (Praise to the Eternity of Jesus)
VI.  Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes (Dance of Fury, for the Seven Trumpets)
VII.  Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour L'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps (Tangle of Rainbows, for the Angel Who Announces the End of Time)
VIII.  Louange a l'Immortalite de Jesus (Praise to the Immortality of Jesus)

Program notes:

Toward the Sea by Toru Takemitsu

The first incarnation of Toward the Sea by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu was a single movement composed in 1981 in response to a commission from Greenpeace foundation for their Save the Whales campaign.  Takemitsu soon expanded the work to 3 movements, taking inspiration from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, with particular regard to the spiritual dimension of the book.  He quotes from the book in the score:  “Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries…and he will infallibly lead you to water. . . meditation and water are wedded together.”  The piece was written at a time when Takemitsu was gradually returning to tonality in his works, and musically spells out S-E-A  using the German notation for Eb-E-A.  This motive occurs throughout the work and represents his desire to create “a sea of tonality” from which many pantonal chords could flow.  

The compositions of Olivier Messiaen had a deep and significant impact on Toru Takemitsu.  In 1977 Takemitsu met with Messiaen for a lesson during which Messiaen played the entirety of the Quartet for the End of Time on the piano.  In addition to using many of the modes Messiaen identifies in his Technique of my Musical Language, Takemitsu was particularly inspired by Messiaen’s use of sound color and his manipulation of rhythm.  After Messiaen’s death in 1992 Takemitsu was quoted in an obituary, saying:  "Truly, he was my spiritual mentor [...] Among the many things I learned from his music, the concept and experience of color and the form of time will be unforgettable."

Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen

Composer Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time is widely considered to be one of the most important works in the chamber music repertoire.  It also has one of the most dramatic background stories of any composition in history.  Olivier Messiaen was a devout French Catholic mystic who believed that his composing ability and inspiration was connected to God, and often tackled serious religious topics such as the apocalypse in his composing.  As a young man Messiaen joined the French army, and in 1940 during World War II he was captured and interned in a German Prisoner of War camp.   Though this camp was not a concentration camp, Messiaen was miserable there, and suffice it to say creatively frustrated.  Shortly after arriving he encountered three other accomplished professional musicians (he himself was a pianist); a clarinetist, a cellist, and a violinist.  Meeting these musicians birthed the instrumentation for the Quartet for the End of Time and kept him busy composing for the duration of his stay there.  In time even the prison guards came to understand and respect his talent as an artist, allowed him to compose, and helped him find the instruments that he needed for a performance of his work.  The work was premiered for their fellow prisoners in 1941.

Throughout his career Messiaen resisted any consistent approach to compositional technique.  When he felt that he needed a unique harmonic language he would simply invent modes and scales to suit his needs.  Rhythmically his approach was even more complex--in the Quartet he attempted to create a rhythmic language that aided in creating a musical picture of eternity (thus the title of the work.)   In his own words:  "Time-measured, relative, physiological, psychological-is divided in a thousand ways, of which the most immediate for us is a perpetual conversion of the future into the past.  In eternity, these things no longer exist."

In addition to the strong biblical and apocalyptic themes that run throughout the Quartet, use of bird song and color association also play leading roles.  Messiaen spent many hours of his adult life recording and documenting bird songs, proclaiming “It's probable that in the artistic hierarchy, birds are the greatest musicians on our planet.” Imitation and quotation of bird song figure prominently in many of his works, and the Quartet is no exception.  Messiaen also claimed to have synesthesia, a cross-sensory condition that elicited images of vivid and detailed color palettes to accompany certain keys and modes.  Inspired by colored visions in his dreams due to food deprivation, the composer chose to reread certain key passages in Revelation that were filled with colorful imagery.  These passages in turn influenced much of the harmonic and modal writing throughout the work.  Our collaboration tonight pays homage to this unity between sound and color, and humbly attempts to bring some of this wonderful and fantastic imagery to life.  


IonSound Project

IonSound Project comprises flutist Peggy Yoo, clarinetist Kathleen Costello, violinist Laura Motchalov, cellist Elisa Kohanski, pianist Rob Frankenberry and percussionist Eliseo Rael, seeks to add to Pittsburgh's cultural life by programming innovative concerts, commissioning works of new music, collaborating with artists in a variety of disciplines, and exploring the boundaries between concert and popular music. The members represent some of the most in demand young musicians in the Pittsburgh area. Collectively, they perform with such ensembles as the Pittsburgh Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Wheeling Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, and have also appeared with the Columbus Symphony, Charleston Symphony, Akron Symphony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Since giving its first concert in 2004, the ensemble has presented more than 80 works by 20th and 21st century composers, demonstrating an ongoing dedication to presenting the work of established and emerging composers from the Pittsburgh region as well as from across the country. In 2006, IonSound Project expanded its activities to include workshop readings, rehearsals and performances of works by University of Pittsburgh composition students, which led to an official appointment in 2008 as ensemble-in-residence of the music department, the first appointment of its kind in the history of the University. For more information on IonSound Project and to hear about future concerts, please visit:  www.ionsound.org.  You can also find us on facebook and twitter.  

Chabala Mwelwa

While Chabala Mwelwa primarily works in digital imaging and photography, his most recent work has been abstract painting in acrylic with the purpose of conveying an appreciation for the aesthetic through color.  The paintings in this style have been monochromatic and non-representational on wood panel.  In his own words: “My painting interests lean more toward creating abstract work in (but not limited to) acrylic with the sole purpose of conveying an appreciation of the aesthetic.  The process has evolved into one that is autonomous as I try to impulsively create marks on a canvas and progress by reacting to previous marks—I like to describe this as a push and pull between subconscious mark making and conscious decision making.  I usually create multiple pieces to build a whole, creating mosaic-like works.  I enjoy the collage technique because it is a way of building a large canvas cell-by-cell, without having to be restricted by size from the beginning, by a single canvas.”

Most recently, Chabala showed some of his work at the Brooklyn Art Libray for The Color Project: A Celebration of Color in Brooklyn, New York (May 21, 2010); The University Art Gallery at the University of Pittsburgh for the Studio Arts Student Exhibition in Pennsylvania (through April 2010); and collaborated with photographers Maureen McMichael and Grace Ginn in a photography show, Optical Aperture, at the William Pitt Union, C.M. Kimbo Art Gallery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Chabala earned his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in Studio Arts in May of 2010.

Jack Kurutz http://www.jackkurutz.com/

Jack Kurutz is an avid recitalist and chamber musician with a diverse repertoire. In Boston, Kurutz worked with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Harvard Group for New Music, Callithumpian Consort, Enchanted Circle, Honors Wind and Brass Quintets, and a piano trio coached by Stephen Drury. At Carnegie Mellon University, Kurutz presented Bartok’s Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion and gave the Pittsburgh premieres of John Adams’ Hallelujah Junction and Grand Pianola Music.

Kurutz received his undergraduate degree from the University of Miami, studying with Ivan Davis. He earned his Master of Music from New England Conservatory in Gabriel Chodos’ studio. In 2005, Kurutz completed an Artist Diploma from Carnegie Mellon University under Enrique Graf. Kurutz currently coaches with Ralph Zitterbart.

In September 2007, Kurutz won First Prize in the William Garrison Piano Competition sponsored by the Baltimore-Washington Chapter of the American Liszt Society. Additionally, he was awarded a prize for the best interpretation of a Franz Liszt composition. He was also a finalist in the 2009 Simone Belsky Competition.

Make a Free Website with Yola.