September 2nd, 2004

Fishy Circumstances

Forty-part motet

Imagine being immersed into the complexities of an Elizabethan vocal arrangement written for forty independent melodic lines, divided into eight choirs of five singers. The music shifts back and forth around the room like a tide, swelling up and subsiding into corners, echoing back and forth. It is beautiful, restful, and surrounds with its depth and layers.

Jane Cardiff's Forty-part motet is installed at the Power Plant, down at the Harbourfront Centre, until Monday. Winner of the first National Gallery in Ottawa's Millennium Award, this striking piece takes an excessively complex bit of music and makes it, as much as it's possible, accessible. Tallis' "Spem in alium" was written in honor of Elizabeth I's coronation.

Several of us went to see/hear it yesterday, since it closes on Monday and we were running out of time and opportunities to go see it. We sat and listened through several times. I was very glad I didn't have the vocal training which pittenweem does, since, as a consequence, she had more problems with the vocal performance than I did. I could sit back and let the beauty of the sound wash around me. I might try to go back before it closes - it's only $2 for students, $4 for adults.

Collapse )