Olivier Messiaen

A News post written by on February 24, 2018

This weekend I’m at mezzo-soprano Julia Bentley‘s faculty recitals at Truman State and the University of Missouri – Columbia. We are collaborating on a program with the work of Olivier Messiaen. I’ve painted two of the songs from his cycle Songs of Earth and Sky, and added two new space paintings as backdrops for the lyric subtitles while she sings. I have never worked with the music of Messiaen, but many of my friends and colleagues have asked about that because of his synesthesia. Working on the music has taught me a few things. First, I had to work differently to paint something which is naturally not really colored in any consistent way to me. Second, I painted the space backdrops simultaneously, but kept them apart from the direct depictions of the two songs. I had to do two of the paintings twice, because it was so hard to hold together the information I used that it took a second filtering to organize them cohesively. Julia is an amazing singer whose rich voice and deep knowledge about Messiaen’s work makes the cycle come alive in ways I had not imagined.

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