Art Can Change Your World

March 27, 2009

Over the last two days I had a chance to draw and listen to some of the most remarkable music ever written. The event was part of the University of Vermont’s Music and Humanities series. Two extraordinary pieces were performed back to back: Shostakovich, Piano Trio No. 2 and Messiaen, Quartet for the End of Time.

Lucky me: I got to go to not just the main performance, but also the rehearsal the evening before!

sketch from first evening:          (click on images for more clear version)


and second evening:





I have a few more from each evening, but they are even less finished than these. It was great drawing to live performance. So much feeling. And without any intent, my drawing speed varied with the tempo.  Pretty cool really.

The music was just plain remarkable– each piece written in response to WW ll.The Messiaen hit me the hardest. I had never heard of it, but parts did sound vaguely familiar. you can go to youtube and listen to at least some of the movements, but no guarantee of quality. The quartet here at UVM was world class.

So how is art changing the world? In this case, two different composers, through their quite different responses to the world as they knew it, have produced very beautiful artworks. They were taking very difficult and intimate themes of personal and profound sadness and turning the feelings into works of beauty. As the effects transcend their own senses of things– the music emerges and gestures to a reality beyond the limitations of their present– we have sublimation… The Sublime, I would argue, at least in the case of the Messiaen. The Shostakovich was also very moving… maybe too short to have the same effect.


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