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War and Remembrance: George Crumb and Olivier Messiaen Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time and George Crumb’s Black Angels

MingHuan Xu, violin; Emily Boone, violin; Doyle Armbrust, viola; Nick Photinos, cello; John Bruce Yeh, clarinet; Winston Choi, piano

Olivier Messiaen wrote “Quartet for the End of Time” while imprisoned in a German prisoner-of-war camp. “Black Angels”, a work for “electric string quartet” by American composer George Crumb (b. 1929), pulls us into a terrifying, nightmarish soundscape. Completed in March, 1970, the piece has been associated with the apocalyptic zeitgeist of the Vietnam era. Both pieces explore concepts of synesthesia.

MingHuan Xu will have the honor of playing a violin which was owned and played by a Jewish musician before and during the Holocaust. The organization Violins of Hope will be graciously loaning the instrument for this special performance. Israeli violinmakers, Amnon and Avshalom (Avshi) Weinstein have spent the last 20 years collecting and repairing 70 Holocaust-era violins and other stringed instruments from around the world, some with the Star of David on the back and others with names and dates inscribed in the instrument. Together they have lovingly located and restored the violins to reclaim their lost heritage, give voice to the victims, and reinforce essential messages of hope, harmony, and humanity. The violins have traveled to cities across the globe, including Rome, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Cleveland, London, Washington D.C., Sarasota, Birmingham, Fort Wayne, Phoenix, San Francisco/East Bay, Los Angeles County, Richmond, and now Chicago. Violins of Hope will be in Chicagoland and surrounding areas across Illinois from April through September 2023. For more information about the organization and performances and events visit www.jccchicago.org/violins-of-hope/.

Tickets range from $20 – $30 based on seating assignment. UTRF members receive $5 off their tickets, use code MEMBERS at checkout, limited student seating is $10. A  post-event reception will be available to all guests.

CLICK HERE to view seating arrangement. 

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George Crumb (1929-2022)

Black Angels “Thirteen Images from the Dark Land” for electric string quartet

I. Departure

Threnody I: Night of the Electric Insects (tutti)

Sounds of Bones and Flutes (trio)

Lost Bells (duo)

Devil-music (solo)

Danse Macabre (duo)

II. Absence

Pavana Lachrymae (trio)

Threnody II: Black Angels! (tutti)

Sarabanda de la Muerte Oscura (trio)

Lost Bells (Echo) (duo)

III. Return

God-music (solo)

Ancient Voices (duo)

Ancient Voices (Echo) (trio)

Threnody III: Night of the Electric Insects (tutti)


Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992):

Quartet for the End of Time

  1. “Liturgie de cristal” (Crystal liturgy)
  2. Vocalise, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du temps” (Vocalise, for the Angel who announces the end of time)
  3. “Abîme des oiseaux” (Abyss of birds)
  4. “Intermède” (Interlude)
  5. “Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus” (Praise to the eternity of Jesus)
  6. “Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes” (Dance of fury, for the seven trumpets)
  7. “Fouillis d’arcs-en-ciel, pour l’Ange qui annonce la fin du temps” (Tangle of rainbows, for the Angel who announces the end of time)
  8. “Louange à l’Immortalité de Jésus” (Praise to the immortality of Jesus)

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The Unity Chamber Music Series is supported in part by the Oak Park Area Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council Agency, and Alphawood Foundation.