WFU to Present “Quartet for the End of Time”

Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” composed when he was a prisoner of war in Stalag VIII-A during World War II, will be performed by Wake Forest University music faculty members on Friday, April 17.

The free concert begins at 8 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall.

The quartet, originally performed in January 1941 for 30,000 prisoners, features clarinet, violin, cello, and piano-the instruments and instrumentalists available in the prison camp.

Pianist Katharine Boyes, clarinetist Linda Julian, violinist Mark Hartman and cellist Selina Carter will perform the work that was inspired by an excerpt from the Bible’s “Book of Revelation.”

“Messiaen never intended to compose an apocalypse, instead he chose to focus on time-measured, relative, physiological, and psychological-which is a constant aspect of life,” said Boyes, visiting instructor of music. “However, in eternity, time no longer exists.”

The eight movements in the quartet vary in their use of instruments. The opening, “Liturgy of Crystal,” is a peaceful portrait of the dawn and distinctly contrasts with the sixth movement, “Dance of Fury for the Seven Trumpets.” The composition includes three solo movements: “Abyss of the Birds” for clarinet featuring transpositions of bird songs and two very slow meditative movements: one for cello, the other for violin.

The quartet is not heard often because of its complexity and the unusual combination of instruments, said Boyes, who is the only one in the group to have performed the piece.

In addition to teaching at Wake Forest, Boyes is a member of the chamber music group Emrys Ensemble and co-directs the Cincinnati Contemporary Music Ensemble Festival. Julian performs with the Winston-Salem Piedmont Triad Symphony and the Piedmont Wind Symphony and is a member of the Wake Forest woodwind quintet, Opus Five. Hartman performs with the Winston-Salem and Salisbury symphonies. Carter performs with the Winston-Salem Symphony, Carolina Baroque and the Wake Forest Consort.

For information, call (336) 758-5026.

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