Rothko Chapel: a place, a piece, an experience. Chorus pro Musica and Sonic Liberation Players join forces in November for a rare performance of Morton Feldman’s breathtaking “Rothko Chapel,” plus works of Anthony R. Green, Mozart, Hagen, Betinis, and DiOrio.
“Rothko Chapel,” the centerpiece of the concert, was commissioned for and premiered at the titular chapel in Houston, Texas in 1972. It is a place for “people of all faiths or none,” and home to 14 monumental paintings by the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, Feldman’s close friend.
Feldman composed his musical interpretation of the chapel– for soprano, alto, mixed chorus, celesta, percussion, and viola–for a unique venue and its inimitable vast paintings that inspired the sound world we hear. Coming to this ecumenical place, people of all walks of life can think, grieve, heal, and be transformed, mostly in silence, by the space and Rothko’s paintings.
Additional pieces complement this masterwork and encompass various themes and emotions the chapel provokes.
Anthony Green, “Lighter Moves” (for flute, violin, vibraphone and piano) premiered at MusicaPoi 2013 by Ensemble Spaziomusica. Behind all of his artistic endeavors are the ideals of equality and freedom, which manifest themselves in diverse ways in a composition, a performance, a collaboration, or social justice work.
Betinis’ “Cedit, Hyems” probes themes of night and darkness juxtaposed with the light that arrives with Christ. This 14th c text resonates with the sunlight that beams through the roof of Rothko Chapel, changing the appearance of the paintings every minute of every day as the sun passes through.
Hagen’s “Ophelia” tells of a sad, struggling, lamenting leading lady of literature who might have found solace in a place like Rothko Chapel.
DiOrio’s “All Is” whimsically refigures the creation story: God as a little boy seizes his plaything, pulls out “the marble in his pocket” and creates the universe. “He breathes in beauty/He breathes out imagination,” fashioning all–”stars and breath and life and blood and men and war.” Similarly, the exquisite Rothko Chapel itself invites through its doors all who at once feel both the world’s suffering and transcendent wonder.
Mozart’s “Misericordia Domini K222” rounds out the program, a work of Rothko’s favorite composer and muse.
Performed at the stunning Tiffany-designed Church of the Covenant in Boston, “Rothko Chapel” and its accompanying works will transport audiences to another mesmerizing, historic sanctuary hundreds of miles away.
Chorus pro Musica gratefully acknowledges the support of Patricia Ann Metzer and Peter Pulsifer as concert sponsors.