Messiaen 100

This article is from 2008.

Messiaen 100

Celebrating a centenary with intimate recitals and orchestral drama.

As a composer he was the epitome of innovation; as a musician he could move a room to silent awe. That the EIF is choosing to celebrate the centenary of Olivier Messiaen as part of its programme will come as little surprise to those familiar with this Frenchman’s extraordinary talents. ‘We wanted to pay homage to this amazing talent,’ says Matthew Studdert-Kennedy, artistic administrator for the EIF. ‘And while it is a relatively small part of the programme, we want it to make a big statement.’

In keeping with the EIF’s ‘beyond borders’ theme, Beirut-born Naji Hakim will play two pieces of the late composer’s own repertoire, as well as three pieces of his own. Elsewhere, composer Ilan Volkov will lead 120 of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s players to capture Messiaen’s final work, ‘Eclairs sur l’au-delà (Illuminations of the Hereafter),’ inspired by the composer’s lifelong fascination with birdsong.

‘As a piece, it really captures all his musical interests in this very magical moment: it was his last work and the culmination of an incredible career,” says Studdert-Kennedy. ‘It is literally one of those pieces that can make time stand still. That seldom happens in a concert hall, so prepare to be amazed.’

Naji Hakim, St Giles’ Cathedral, Royal Mile, 0131 473 2000, 9, 11 Aug, 10.30pm, £17; Eclairs sur l’au-delà, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, 0131 473 2000, 10 Aug, 8pm, £10-£39.

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