For the End of Time: 80 Years of the Messiaen Quartet SEP-OCT 2021

A Milestone Celebration for
80th Anniversary of the Quartet’s Premiere & 40th Anniversary of HKU Department of Music

Created in a tumultuous time, Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for The End of Time is a testimonial of humanity’s standing perseverance in the face of adversity. Composed and premiered in a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp, the music embodies Messiaen’s unshakable belief, love of nature, and stoic resilience that liberated his creativity beyond personal suffering.

At the 80th anniversary of the work’s premiere, HKU MUSE presents a specially curated series, including virtual lectures, a ‘Music in Words’ talk, an evening performance, a world premiere, and community outreach plans. Spearheaded by leading scholars and musicians, this series aims to introduce and bring to light the work’s theological, historical, and musical significance, with relevance to our lives today.

2021 also marks the 40th anniversary of the HKU Department of Music. To celebrate these milestones, Dr. Joshua Chan of the Music Department will compose a new work with the same instrumentation. The audience will hear this new quartet commemorating Messiaen’s masterpiece and take part in a world premiere, witnessing history in the making.

PROGRAMME OVERVIEW

【CONCERT】
For the End of Time – 80 Years of the Messiaen Quartet
8 OCT | FRI | 8PM | Grand Hall, Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre

【3 PRE-CONCERT TALKS】
Zoom Lecture: A Conversation on Time and Eternity          30 SEP | THU | 8PM
Zoom Lecture: Doing Time                                                        6 OCT | WED | 8PM
Music in Words with Performers of Messiaen’s Quartet     8 OCT | FRI | 6:30PM | LG1.22, Run Run Shaw Tower, HKU

DETAILS

【CONCERT】
For the End of Time – 80 Years of the Messiaen Quartet
8 OCT | FRI | 8PM | Grand Hall, Lee Shau Kee Lecture Centre
$20 (admin fee)

One of the greatest figures of 20th century music, the French composer Olivier Messiaen wrote and premiered his Quartet for the End of Time inside a Nazi prison camp in the bleak winter of 1941. Messiaen drew inspiration from the tenth chapter of Revelation, as a point of departure for his composition. A devout Catholic, an enthusiastic ornithologist, and a rhythmician, Messiaen created a unique language that integrated birdsong, church modes, ancient Greek and Hindu rhythms, and religious and mystical symbolism. At the Quartet’s 80th anniversary, renowned pianist and music educator Nancy Loo will share the stage with Kitty Cheung (violin), Linus Fung (clarinet), and Eric Yip (cello) to perform this monumental work. This memorable year also marks the 40th anniversary of the HKU Department of Music. To celebrate these milestones, the musicians will premiere a Messiaen-inspired new work by Dr. Joshua Chan of the Music Department.

PROGRAMME
JOSHUA CHAN Fiery Rustles of Rain
(World Premiere – written for the 40th Anniversary of the Department of Music, HKU)

OLIVIER MESSIAEN Quartet for the End of Time 

ARTISTS
Kitty Cheung, violin|Linus Fung, clarinet|Eric Yip, cello|Nancy Loo, piano
【3 PRE-CONCERT TALKS】

Zoom Lecture
A Conversation on Time and Eternity: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

30 SEP | THU | 8PM | In Cantonese
FREE via online registration

The first event of the Messiaen series will be hosted virtually by HKU Music Department’s Professor Chan Hing-yan, with guest speaker Professor Henry Shiu of Emmanuel College, a theological college in the University of Toronto. They will share their thoughts on various aspects of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, ranging from the composer’s unique musical language, inspiration from nature, devout Catholicism, to how his message of time and eternity resonates with us today.

Speakers:
Prof. Henry Shiu Emmanuel College, University of Toronto
Prof. Chan Hing-yan Department of Music, The University of Hong Kong

Zoom Lecture
Rayson Huang Lecture 2021/22
Doing Time: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

6 OCT | WED | 8PM | In English
FREE via online registration

This year’s Rayson Huang Lecture will focus on Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Composed and performed 80 years ago in one of Hitler’s prisoner-of-war camps, this work liberates music as a theological and creative act. Professor Rebecca Rischin (Ohio University) and Professor Jeremy Begbie (Duke University) know the Quartet intimately as both musicians and scholars in their respective disciplines of music and theology. They will share their perspectives on Messiaen’s Quartet in two 30-minute lectures, followed by a time of discussion and questions with Professor Daniel Chua, HKU’s Chair Professor of Music.

Speakers:
Prof. Rebecca Rischin School of Music, Ohio University
Prof. Jeremy Begbie Duke Divinity School, Duke University

Moderator:
Prof. Daniel Chua Department of Music, The University of Hong Kong

Music in Words: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time
8 OCT | FRI | 6:30PM | In Cantonese
LG1.22, Run Run Shaw Tower, HKU
FREE via online registration

When Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was premiered during his captivity in a Nazi prison camp, it is said that the four musicians were playing on broken instruments – the cello had only three strings and some piano keys would not bounce back. How much of this account has been fictionalised remains unknown, but it highlights the devastating conditions under which the musicians lived and worked towards the premiere. 80 years later, how do musicians today relate to the heaviness of Messiaen’s masterpiece? Hosted by Prof. Chan Hing-yan, quartet members Kitty Cheung (violin), Linus Fung (clarinet), Eric Yip (cello), and Nancy Loo (piano) will share their take.

Speakers:
Kitty Cheung, Linus Fung, Eric Yip, Nancy Loo

Moderator:
Prof. Chan Hing-yan Department of Music, The University of Hong Kong

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