Erato Ensemble and St. Andrew’s-Wesley Sacred Music Series presents a concert of the most beautiful chamber music ever created. SERENITY: Music for the End of Time, set amid St. Andrew’s-Wesley’s soaring arches and calming atmosphere, is true soul music, evoking hope, tension, joy and peace.
The centerpiece of the concert is Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” written while a prisoner of war in Stalag VIII-A near Gorlitz. It is a quartet designed for the only instruments available in the camp; clarinet, cello, violin and a badly out-of-tune piano (ours will be in tune!). In 1941, the composer and fellow musicians premiered the piece out of doors in the rain for fellow prisoners and camp guards. “Quartet for the End of Time” opens with bird songs; their calls permeate the piece as the difficulties of camp life interrupt their sweetness. A former child prodigy and also bird biologist, Messiaen often included themes based on the bird songs he collected throughout his lifetime, mixing ornithology with orchestral composition. One of the towering works of the 20th century, this challenging composition demonstrates how beauty can come from darkness.
The serene evening begins with William George’s haunting composition for violin and piano based on a chant by the 12th century mystic Hildegard of Bingen, Karitas Habundat (Love Abounds in All). It evokes the peace and calm of a candlelit monastery. Messiaen’s early composition, La Mort du Nombre, is a dialogue between two souls, one filled with angst and the other a force of calm. Charles Wakefield Cadman’s Andante Grazioso, from his Violin Sonata, is one of the great lost works of the early 20th century; its beauty will transport you to another realm. Two art songs, Reynaldo Hahn’s well-loved L'Heure Exquise, and Parsegh Ganatchian’s soothing Oror (Lullaby), will leave you overcome with emotion.
With the mystic’s vision, the muse’s inspiration and the ornithologist’s songs, Erato’s evening of Serenity at St. Andrew’s-Wesley Church shouldn’t be missed.
Erato Ensemble, named for the Greek muse of poetry, consists of highly-skilled musicians who enjoy playing newer chamber music that remains enlightening, enlivening and sometimes challenging but always melodic and entertaining. Formed in 2007, Erato continues to be Vancouver’s premier art-song chamber ensemble. This group of highly-experienced musicians like to exercise their musical muscles with newer repertoire. All are skilled, professional musicians, who also perform with other top ensembles, including Vancouver Symphony, musica intima, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Ethos, Blueridge Chamber Festival, Vancouver Island Symphony, and the rock band Horse Opera. Several of the musicians are also well-respected composers. Erato is an affiliate ensemble of the Canadian Music Centre.