Lincoln Center to Install 700-Pound Door for Stockhausen Piece

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The lengths that presenters and orchestras will go to present a piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen.

The controversial modernist composer died in 2007 but his works are suddenly having a banner year.

Lincoln Center has added an all-Stockhausen concert (Oct. 30) to its upcoming "White Light" festival, featuring Heaven’s Door, a musical-theatrical piece involves the use of a specially-made, paneled wooden door that stands more than nine feet tall and weighs 700 pounds.

The concert comes just three months after the New York Philharmonic played Stockhausen’s Gruppen, involving three orchestras, each with its own conductor, at the Park Avenue Armory.

This summer’s Cultural Olympiad in the U.K. featured a staging of Stockhausen's Mittwoch aus Licht opera in Birmingham, England complete with the infamous helicopter string quartet (in which each string player plays in a separate 'copter whirring through the air).

For the New York premiere of Heaven’s Door, a massive door was designed and built by D.J. Betsill, an Atlanta luthier and cabinet maker, will be transported from his workshop to Alice Tully Hall. The door is meant to evoke a church door, according to the composer.

As with much of Stockhausen's work, the piece's premiere at the Spoleto Festival in 2007 drew mixed responses. A headline in the Post and Courier of Charleston read “Is this Music?” Music critic Loretta Haskell wrote: "Percussionist Stuart Gerber delivered an athletic performance by knocking on a door with various wood mallets. It was choreographed and stylish but also distracting.”

A New York Times review opted for a descriptive approach, noting how Gerber raps on “a specially constructed wooden door frame with what appear to be tubular wooden ‘sticks’ and stamps his feet; when, at some length, the doors open, he enters and is heard from within, unseen, on a variety of cymbals and gongs, a sort of sonic fireworks. A young girl then enters, and that, quickly, is that.”