Olivier Messiaen wrote his piano masterpiece Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (Twenty Contemplations of the Infant Jesus) in 1944, surrounded by war in occupied Paris, yet the music is suffused with themes of love, colour, passion, silence and faith. Pianist Cordelia Williams presents ‘Between Heaven and the Clouds’, a year-long series of events setting Vingt Regards alongside words and images, including specially commissioned poetry and paintings, in order to explore these universal themes and Messiaen’s rich variety of inspiration.
Commission of twenty poems by award-winning British poet Michael Symmons Roberts responding to the twenty movements of Vingt Regards.
Commission of a Suite of paintings by British artist Sophie Hacker in response to the ideas and theology of Vingt Regards.
Commission of one poem by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Rowan Williams, inspired by Messiaen the man, his music and his faith.
The events, taking place around the country, will include performances of the work alongside poetry readings and exhibition of the art, discussion panels and a study day. ‘Between Heaven and the Clouds’ aims to discover anew this wonderful music and to encourage cross-discipline collaboration between artists and academics.