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“Quartet for the End of Time” Rescheduled for March 11, 7:30 pm

Olivier Messiaen (left) as a soldier on the eastern front of France in 1940.

A Converse Trio performance of "Quartet for the End of Time" has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 11th at 7:30 pm in Fullerton Auditorium.

"Quartet for the End of Time" premiered on January 15, 1941 in frigid Barrack 27 of the World War II Nazi prison camp Stalag VIII-A. Olivier Messiaen, who wrote the score, was joined by three of his fellow prisoners in the large garrison-which had been converted to serve as a theater-to perform the piece as hundreds of other prisoners and their Nazi guards looked on.

The Converse Trio will perform the 50-minute piece with various elements of multi-media. Admission is free and open to the public. Even though "Quartet for the End of Time" was written in a prison camp, the piece was not written as an ode to the end of wartime or the Third Reich itself. It is, rather, a musical representation of the end of all things as described in the Book of Revelations of The Bible, specifically the descent of the seventh angel, at the sound of whose trumpet the mystery of God will be consummated, and who announces "that there should be time no longer."

Music critic and historian Alex Ross wrote, "Messiaen's quiet answer to the ultimate questions of fear and faith stayed with me the longest, not because he was a greater composer than Bach or Beethoven but because his reply came out of an all-too-modern landscape of legislated inhumanity. In the face of hate, this honestly Christian man did not ask, 'Why, O Lord?' He said, 'I love you.' Listeners cannot fail to be touched by this work, which is essentially music fulfilling its most vital purpose."

The Converse Trio is comprised of Converse College professors Douglas Weeks, piano; Sarah Johnson, violin; and Kenneth Law, cello. They will be joined by clarinetist Karen Hill.

Other Converse College personnel will join the Trio to enhance the listening experience:

  • Drs. Scott Robbins, Professor of Musicology and Composition, and Jeffrey Barker, Professor of Religion and Philosophy and Dean of the College, will present brief lectures on the structure of the work and imagining the unimaginable.
  • Assistant Professor of Theatre Brent Glenn will provide dramatic readings.
  • Original visual presentations by Professor of Studio Art Teresa Prater will be presented.