Mar 05 - Mar 09 2015
Environs Messiaen: Nature Rendered at the Keyboard

Performance + Music
March 5 -9, 2015
Environs Messiaen Festival
Presented by the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies

In the hubbub of everyday life, environmental sounds easily fade into the background. But to composers like Olivier Messiaen, music begins in those sounds. The Environs Messiaen: Nature Rendered at the Keyboard festival at Cornell University will explore works inspired by nature, inviting us to pause and listen again.The festival features five concerts, four lectures, a film screening, and a sound installation. In addition to works by Messiaen, the festival includes music by 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner John Luther Adams. 

A composer, organist, pianist, and teacher, Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) achieved international recognition as one of the most influential creative musicians of the twentieth century. Messiaen did not just hear sounds, but also saw and felt them as specific colors—a neurological condition known as synesthesia. His work reflects this complex “view” of the world, suggesting deep connectivity throughout all of nature. 

The festival spotlights the keyboard instruments Messiaen cultivated the most, and Caroline Martel’s documentary movie Wavemakers explores that history, from Hollywood classics to Édith Piaf to Radiohead. The instrument will be heard in an evening concert on March 5. Messiaen and Loriod will perform excerpts from Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux, with a special performance on March 7 at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Ronald Hoy, Merksamer Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences and an expert in animals’ use of sound, will give an introduction. (The event is free but requires on-line registration, see link provided below).

Messiaen and Loriod also performed Visions de l’Amen at Cornell, and the festival will culminate with a two-piano recital by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovitch. The recital is presented as part of the Cornell Concert Series (tickets for purchase below).

The festival, presented by the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Department of Music, and Cornell Plantations, is the brainchild of pianists Xak Bjerken, professor of performance, and Ryan MacEvoy McCullough, DMA graduate student. The Cornell Council for the Arts, the French Studies Program, the Institute for European Studies, and the University Lectures Committee co-sponsor the event.

Related Links:
Program Schedule
Purchase Tickets | Visions de l'Amen
Merksamer Demonstration | Registration
Live-Streaming of Merksamer