Monday, October 20, 2008


Tonight I went to this concert at school with music all by Olivier Messiaen. It was amazing. The first half the the song cycle, Poemes pour Mi sung by Julia Bentley, who is an absolutely fantastic mezzo-soprano. Messiaen wrote the piece for his wife. "Mi" was his nickname for her. Sometimes on music he'd written he'd write a small staff at the top of the first page and write an "E" in it (the note, E) because essentially the third scale degree is "mi" in solfege. Sorry, I'm a music nerd. I'll try and put it more simply. In The Sound of Music when Maria is explaining music to the kids. "Do, a deer, a female deer. Re, a drop of golden sun. Mi, a name I call myself..." Okay, so "Do, Re, Mi." Mi was Messiaen's wife's nickname. Goodness! That took WAY too long.

Anyway, the first half was that song set, and the second half was Quartet for the End of Time. It's so amazing. It's based on the book of Revelation. What Messiaen tries to achieve is the sense of timelessness of heaven. I'm not going to even try to describe how amazing it is. You'll just have to listen to it yourself. It made my soul happy. I left with my soul filled to the brim with Messiaen's visions in color of the book of Revelation.

He had this disease where his senses got all mixed up. So he would hear a chord and see a color. Most of his pieces have color discriptions written in them, like "deep violet with gold flakes crossed with orange streaks," or something to that effect.

I could go on and on and on about all the things I learned at a Lectures in Church Music session this afternoon about Messiaen. But I won't bore you.

Long story short, Messiaen is wonderful. I feel peaceful tonight.

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