Cathedrals are magnificent structures; they are grandiose, full of symbolism and offer a sense of sanctuary. Stepping inside a cathedral is a humbling and reverence-inducing experience — you’re surrounded by stained glass, sculpture, paintings, and, if you visit at the right time, music.
On Monday, September 17 at 8 PM, the Utah Chamber Artists will be the music you can experience at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City. Their annual cathedral collage, this year entitled “Shadows & Light,” will be, as always, a visual as well as an aural experience as the music you hear is enhanced by the artwork and stained glass in the cathedral, thanks to lighting designer Chip Dance.
The term “Cathedral Collage” refers not only to how the music is programmed, but also how it is performed. The pieces for that evening don’t necessarily have a common thread. They are a mixed bag of musical genres, eras and composers. Choral works will be pasted against an instrumental piece — a Renaissance number might be juxtaposed against a contemporary piece, or a soloist might sing immediately following a string quartet. The performers will appear in the choir of the cathedral for one song and then disappear during an instrumental piece only to show up again in the organ loft. The whole program is designed to give the audience a memorable experience that is focused on the music, uninterrupted by applause. The “choreography” of the evening was whimsically referred to as “whack a mole” by executive director Becky Durham in a recent radio interview, meaning that you never know where or when the next performer might “pop” up — an element that delights the audience as they wait for the next surprise.
This year’s program features the Fry Street Quartet, a highly honored music ensemble based in Utah. They will perform throughout the evening. Utah Chamber Artists usually invites guest artists to highlight at their Cathedral Collage, but the main attraction is always the choir. Their ability to create clarity and color with their straight tones and dissonances is always a joy to hear — particularly in the Cathedral of the Madeline. The program includes works by Bach, Beethoven, Gjeilo, Vivaldi, Eric William Barnum, Richard Hundley and Einojuhani Rautavaara. Some pieces you will have undoubtedly heard before, others will be a new experience; you’ll be inspired, calmed, surprised, and challenged — all elements that make for a good work of art.
Utah Chamber Artists kicked off their season on Monday with a private dinner and concert for their donors and supporters. One of the guests of honor was Utah painter J. Kirk Richards, whose painting “Song of the Heart” graces their season brochure and will appear in their printed programs for this season. (Richards’ work will be exhibited at the St. George Art Museum September 21 – December 31 along with new works by Brian Kershisnik. You can learn more about Richards at his website www.jkirkrichards.com or check back in the October edition for an article on his exhibit).
The collage concert is offered free of charge, but since it is generally offered on two nights to packed audiences and this year will only be Monday the 17th, you’ll want to arrive early. The Cathedral of the Madeleine is at 331 E. South Temple. For more info on Utah Chamber Artists visit utahchamberartists.org, where you can order CDs of their music or download mp3s, including Bradford Barlow’s arrangement of Ave Maria performed at last year’s Cathedral Collage.