What do Meredith Monk, Jón Þor “Jónsi” Birgisson, the Hilliard Ensemble, Antony Hegarty and Gidon Kremer have in common? They are all being featured on Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. This is a festival with a bit of a hard-to-pin-down unifying theme: spiritual music, deeply introspective music, or in the words of Vice President of Programming Jane Moss, "music's transcendent capacity to illuminate our larger interior universe." Well put Jane!
This festival features so many of my personal heroes, I really couldn’t resist a week of White Light-inspired programming as part of Q2's extended White Light Filtered coverage. Live performance is often an outlet for showmanship, for riling up the crowd, for extroverted stage antics. This festival is a sort of great place to explore performance that is after a very different thing, music that seeks a quiet place.
My brother and I are both violists. A strange outcome that often has my parents wondering what they did wrong! (RIMSHOT)
Our playing the same instrument has been a kind of scientific control; as a result the difference in our performing personalities is clear: I am the crazy, outgoing one and my brother is the introspective, come closer kind of player. As we got older, studied intensively and sought to become as well-rounded as possible, these differences became more and more muted, but thinking about this phenominon has me considering the different ways that music can move us. While it can definitely surge, crescendo, push us to feel big glorious things, sometimes moving us in a centered, introspective, subtle, sophisticated way is more personal, more special.
This was definitely the case with Antony Hegarty's show this past weekend. There was a moment in his song "I fell in love with a dead boy" where he extended a silence, a grand pause between phrases, for what felt like a solid minute. The anticipation, the calm, the profound silence of the thing was truly moving.
Do you have a favorite composer who blows you away with nuance? Is there a piece that can transport you to another, subtler planet?