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messiaen: a BIRDSOUL

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Theater Pavillon

Spelteriniweg 6

6005 Lucerne


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Event description
Music by Olivier Messiaen, Contemporary Dance, 3D Projections. Theme: BIRDS.

About this Event





While the project is a collaboration between two leading artists: Elina Akselrud (piano, photography) and Marzia Zuliani (modern dance), there are multiple artistic elements woven together by a group of participating artists (flute, choreography, projection, and costume design) in order to represent and express the philosophical and theatrical plot.

Music: the 'Bird' piano pieces by Olivier Messiaen outside of the “Bird Catalogue”: “La Fauvette des Jardins”, “Petites Esquisses d'Oiseaux”, “La Merle Noir” with Katrin Szamatulski, flute), expanded by and/or blended with a number of surprises, performed by Elina Akselrud

Dance: a mix of a previously developed base with improvisational parts, choreographed by Sarah Brower, performed by Marzia Zuliani.

Visuals: 3D projections: fine art photos created by Elina Akselrud and Volodymyr Zhdanov and moving ambient elements with a bird/nature theme created by the photographer and projection artist Ernst Kehrli.

Costume elements: by the designer Brande Wilkerson.

Ideas to Explore

The spirit of bird as an essential aspect of culture, art, and personhood: the idea of unlimited freedom

The image of a bird as a representation of the Divine – Heaven, Light, God

The spirit of bird resides in every human being as calmness, blessing, enlightenment

The idea of flight, as a symbol of free choice, limitless possibilities for each and everyone

A bird symbolizing the complex self-search of a human being and a need to weigh a choice between freedom and risk

Messiaen's own creative themes

God – love, life, eternity

Rhythm – the universe, the pulse of time, perhaps even self-perception

Birds – on the one hand, keepers of mystery and the Blessing, on the other hand – rhythmists, actors, orators (i.e. the nightingale).

Birdsongs have inspired Messiaen and enriched his already masterful use of complex musical elements. For example, the use of limited transposition, unretrogradable rhythms, harmonic pedalization, as well as the unique technique of the program note, which he developed during his later periods, as a necessary addition to his 'bird style' works.

Although Messiaen attended scientific exhibitions and studied ornithology, his artistic imagination yearned for more. He saw a sacred meaning in these creatures. Maybe the birds know something about the supernatural world, to which he could perhaps be brought closer after his thorough and devoted studies. So, besides a scientific understanding, he also viewed birds emotionally and spiritually. He often listened to birdsong for an extended period of time, and as a result, entered a state of sacred meditation. During this time, he conceived of ethereal vibrations, which he then transposed into the core material of his works, implying its movement through the performer to the listener. The influence of the bird biorhythmics on Messiaen was so colossal that in some metaphorical sense, he also became a bird.

"In my hours of gloom, when I am suddenly aware of my own futility, when every musical idiom – classical, oriental, ancient, modern and ultra-modern – appears to me as no more than admirable, painstaking experimentation, without any ultimate justification, what is left for me but to seek out the true, lost face of music somewhere off in the forest, in the fields, in the mountains or on the seashore, among the birds."

- Olivier Messiaen

Each of us, as an audience member and/or an artist, will have a chance to indulge in Messiaen's meditation through a blend of his music, birdsong, dance performance, and experimental improvisation in this project. As we spiritually become birds, we perceive the freedom of our souls, and thereby we open up to new aspects of our identities, which we may have not discovered before.

We are thankful from the bottom of our hearts for the support of:

Stiftung Monika Widmer

Stiftung Anne-Marie Schindler

FUKA-Fonds Stadt Luzern

Migros Kulturprozent

Regionalkonferenz Kultur RKK

Strebi Stiftung

Musikhaus Gisler

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Theater Pavillon

Spelteriniweg 6

6005 Lucerne


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