Gospel music. Samuel Beckett. A string quartet.
In “John the Revelator,” these seemingly unrelated components blend together to create one fluid mass of music.
SEE “JOHN THE REVELATOR”
Location: Memorial Hall
Time: Tuesday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Student tickets: $10, general admission $20
Phil Kline’s composition, which will be performed tonight at Memorial Hall, was inspired by the Son House-version of Blind Willie Johnson’s gospel-blues song of the same name.
The piece combines the writings of playwright Samuel Beckett, poet David Shapiro and the Old Testament with music inspired by the religious mass, gospel style and early American shape-note hymns. It is written to conform to the traditional progression of a Catholic mass.
Kline wrote the piece for vocal group Lionheart and string quartet ETHEL after being commissioned by John Schaefer, host of the WNYC New York talk show “New Sounds.”
Sean McKeithan, director of communications and marketing for Carolina Performing Arts, said that Kline — and the performance — is groundbreaking.
“Phil Kline is a really talented music maker,” he said. “It’s a really original composition.”
Cornelius Dufallo, a violinist for ETHEL, said the quartet has played several of Kline’s pieces before and that they have enjoyed playing “John the Revelator.”
“I am always amazed by Phil’s ability to evoke so much emotion from very simple musical material,” he said. “His style has a simplicity and a purity that is very inspiring.”
Dufallo also said that ETHEL’s collaboration with Lionheart has been enjoyable.
“They are remarkable musicians,” he said. “The sound they get as a group is stunningly beautiful.”
McKeithan said the performance goes against the grain of its classical roots.
“It’s an avant-garde piece,” he said. “It’s a haunting postmodern mass that draws from literary and folkloric influences.”
Melody Pineda, artistic assistant for Carolina Performing Arts, said “John the Revelator” has an interesting mix of influences.
“The piece is peaceful and calming, but the string quartet adds a modern twist on traditional mass,” she said in an email.
Pineda said she hopes the performance will expand students’ horizons.
“UNC students (will) gain a new perspective on mass and stretch their definitions of modern music.”
Dufallo described the piece as a fusion of traditional and modern elements.
“It alludes to ancient music, rock ‘n’ roll, and folk traditions,” he said. “There is modern poetry in addition to ancient Latin texts.”
“It is so eye-opening to experience modern music that is beautiful, emotional and inspiring,” he said.
Although some may be intimidated by the idea of modern music, Dufallo said people should not let preconceived ideas steer them away from filling seats.
“Modern, 21st-century concert music can be gorgeous — unabashedly beautiful with no pretense.”
Contact the Arts Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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