The Hope College Faculty Recital Series will feature two different musical responses to war, “Babel” and “Quartet for the End of Time,” on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 3 p.m. in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
Co-composed by professors of music Brian Coyle and Brad Richmond and scored for choir, speakers, and large jazz ensemble, "Babel” displays a broad array of colors, dynamics and rhythm, some of which is achieved through improvisation. The music's character, serene at one moment, angry or sarcastic at another, is intended to dramatize the stark contrasts in the war commentary and poetry on which it's based. The texts are drawn from Nicholson Baker’s “Human Smoke,” a book of annotated quotations from the period between World War I and World War II. Thoughts of Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Colman McCarthy, Adolf Hitler, St. Paul, and Hope graduate and peace activist A.J. Muste will be heard throughout the piece. “Babel” was composed with the support of a Nyenhuis Grant from the college, and was first performed in 2011. For this performance, “Babel” will feature the Jazz Arts Collective and the Chapel Choir under the direction of Richmond.
The remainder of the concert will be devoted to “Quartet for the End of Time,” by Olivier Messiaen. This 50-minute spiritual work was composed in an internment camp during World War II, and takes its inspiration from Revelations 10. The quartet was written for an ensemble of Messiaen on piano, plus violin, cello and clarinet because Messiaen happened to be imprisoned with accomplished musicians on these instruments. To depict “the End of Time,” Messiaen used symmetrical and additive rhythms, medieval isorhythms and “infinitely slow” tempos. The movement for solo clarinet, “Abyss of the Birds,” includes the calls of the blackbird and the nightingale, reflecting Messiaen's lifelong love of birdsong. Two other movements are solos for the string instruments with piano: “Hymn to the Eternity of Jesus” and “Hymn to the Immortality of Jesus.” Performing the “Quartet for the End of Time” will be Hope faculty members Alicia Eppinga, cello; Joel Schekman, clarinet; and Jennifer Wolfe, piano; with guest violinist Jenny Walvoord.
The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.