Moved to Tears at the Cloisters by a Ghostly Tapestry of Music
2013-09-20 0:00

By Jim Dwyer | NYTimes

Wobbling, blissed out, a few in tears, people emerged every 12 minutes or so from the remnant of a 12th-century Spanish chapel tucked into the Cloisters museum.

Something had happened there, up on a hill at the northern end of Manhattan.

“It’s too soon to talk,” Margaret Cardenas said as she left the chapel.

“Too raw,” said another young woman, Alyssa.

Inside the ancient chapel was the first presentation of contemporary art ever at the Cloisters: “The Forty Part Motet,” an 11-minute immersion in a tapestry of voice, each thread as vivid as the whole fabric. A sacred composition of Renaissance England is rendered by the multimedia artist Janet Cardiff through 40 speakers — one for each voice in the Salisbury Cathedral Choir, which performed the piece in 2000. What started as one microphone per singer is now a choir of black high-fidelity speakers arrayed in an oval, eight groupings of soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass.


Janet Cardiff’’s sound installation “The Forty Part Motet,’’ 40 loudspeakers in an oval in the Fuentidueña Chapel at the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan.

In the intimate space of the museum’s Fuentidueña Chapel, the sound, from invisible people, as if from ghosts, feels like charged, living sculpture. Through Dec. 8, it plays in a loop all day.

Ms. Cardenas, 24, had stayed in the chapel through four full cycles, walking along the ranks of speakers, then sitting on a bench in the center.

“I’m kind of out of it — I can’t articulate it,” she said. “Each speaker is a different person. It’s not something you think about: you feel it.”

In a moment, she found the word.

“Transcendent,” she said.

Ms. Cardenas was visiting the East Coast from Oregon for a wedding, and came to New York this week specifically to see a monumental installation by James Turrell in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum. Then she heard about the Forty Part Motet and trekked uptown. “This is cooler, honestly, than Turrell,” Ms. Cardenas said. “I was super fortunate to get to see both.”

Others stumbled onto the “Forty Part Motet” while doing a lap around the city museum circuit. No one who sets foot inside the Cloisters can miss the sounds; although they are at their most powerful within the jeweled acoustic space of the chapel, they soar through the building.

“We had no idea it was here, and then we heard it all along as we went around the exhibits,” said Bengt Ehlim, who was visiting the city from Sweden with his wife, Susanne. She seemed to be stepping out of a trance.

“I am so really moved,” Ms. Ehlim said.

The core of Ms. Cardiff’s installation is a motet, “Spem in Alium,” a Latin fragment of the phrase “In No Other Is My Hope,” composed by Thomas Tallis sometime in the 16th century. Its transformation into the “Forty Part Motet” has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, the museum’s space in Long Island City, Queens.

“I’d seen it at MoMA, and the gallery was very neutral,” Jeff Gray, 33, a computer programmer and musician, said outside the chapel. “But there’s nothing like this kind of space, the resonance of brick with wood roof. The kind of ghost qualities are a lot more apparent here. Everything bounces a lot more: you hear a voice over here, and you kind of feel it float around you.”

[...]

Read the full article at: nytimes.com






Related Articles
The Forty Part Motet - Site (Met Museum)
Welcome to the pleasuredome: How we evolved to love music
Is Your Taste In Music Influenced By The Shape Of Your Skull?
The Quickening Art: The True Healing Power of Music
Listen to the Music of the Spheres
The Vibrating Cathedral of Cologne
Heartbeats of choir singers synchronize when they harmonize


Latest News from our Front Page

Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
2016-04-28 20:10
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North. The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night. A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked. The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
2016-04-28 20:48
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough. Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield. Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
2016-04-27 2:23
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July. The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
2016-04-27 2:09
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown. The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent. He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
2016-04-25 23:10
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are. ... London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race. Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event. Marathon ...
More News »