Wartime Stories: Reich and Messiaen

Steve Reich: Different Trains
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time

St. Lawrence String Quartet; Joshua Rubin, clarinet; Sarah Rothenberg, piano

Video: Mihai Cucu
Lighting design: Jennifer Tipton

Two masterworks of the twentieth century depicting profoundly contrasting personal experiences of the WWII era are presented together: Steve Reich’s ground-breaking Different Trains, presented with original synchronized video, interweaves live and pre-recorded string quartet with sounds of trains, whistles, sirens, recorded voices from the American past and fragmented memories of Holocaust survivors. Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, composed  in a German prisoner of war camp in 1940, is dramatized with lighting by renowned designer Jennifer Tipton.

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“Wartime always brings uprootedness and absence from home. Reich’s Different Trains was inspired by the composer’s childhood memories of transcontinental trips across America as he was shuttled between divorced parents and their homes in New York and LA; years later, he realized with horror that tragic train journeys of Jewish children like himself had taken place at the same time in Europe, and he composed this high-energy, powerfully kinetic work as a testament to both experiences. Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is a world apart, a transcendent spiritual statement of mystical faith that looks beyond earthly time.” — Sarah Rothenberg

“a magnificent pianist” – Olivier Messiaen on Sarah Rothenberg

“A rare gift for combining interpretive spontaneity and fierce musical commitment.” – The New York Times on the St. Lawrence String Quartet

“incapable of playing an inexpressive note.” — The New York Times on Joshua Rubin