Thursday, November 03, 2011

White Light Festival of 2011

We are off to the White Light Festival of 2011 tonight to hear the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela. This is its second year. The festival began as an exploration of ways music informs and enlightens our spiritual lives. Jane Moss, the festival director, interviewed by HuffPo, likens our 24/7 craving for technology to an addiction which the festival attempts to identify and overcome.


This year's festival, which begins on October 20 and runs to November 19, includes performances of Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," an Olivier Messiaen organ recital, and the Huelgas Ensemble's performance of a capella choral music from the Renaissance, as well as a number of original contemporary offerings. Many of the performances will take place at Alice Tully Hall, though others are spread across the city. Prices range from free (the opening night performance and a light installation) to around $100.
While last year's lineup was overtly spiritual, this year's programming is more varied in content, though each piece has been selected based on some shared ineffable quality of "White Light"-ness.
"They're works that evoke in a very powerful way, themes or ideas of transcendence," Moss said. "By that I don't necessarily mean spiritual transcendence, but all those pieces of ourselves that are not related to our ego which many people have no time for anymore."
The festival will premiere a production of "Desdemona," a new take on "Othello," created through collaboration between Toni Morrison, director Peter Sellars and Malian musician Rokia Traore. Also making its debut is the silent film "The Passion of the Joan of Arc," presented with a score by Adrian Utley of Portishead and Will Gregory of Goldfrapp.
After each performance, attendees can visit a White Light lounge next to the venue, where they can drink sparkling water or sparkling wine and mingle with their fellow peace-seekers. It's this kind of artistic community that Moss wants to reinstate in contemporary performance.
"Performances are one of the few communal experiences with people remaining," Moss said. "In the course of a performance, you get closer to other people. You feel more connected to the human experience."

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