Songs of Love and Death by Messiaen

Liz Pearse





Songs of Love and Death by Messiaen

  • $25 Assigned Rows 1-2
  • $15 Assigned Rows 3-5
  • $10 General Admission
  • $5 Student
  • Elizabeth Pearse, soprano
  • Karl Larson, piano

Event Details

January 2014 – This concert is part of a recital tour of Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi. Olivier Messiaen’s immense song cycle Harawi (1945) is the first part of what has become known as the “Tristan trilogy” - followed by Turangalîla Symphony and Cinq Rechants. Exploring tropes of love and death, Messiaen ecstatically blends borrowed Peruvian folklore and melodies with themes from the Tristan/Isolde fated-love story.
The project was extremely personal for Messiaen – as he composed Harawi, his wife Clair Delbos was beginning to succumb to the long illness which eventually took her life. Additionally, the pianist for whom he wrote this and many other works, Yvonne Loriod, later became his second wife. His text explores ideas of fated love and death, invoking surreal images and descriptions of color, exotic sounds and incantations. Harawi makes monumental demands of both singer and pianist, and the duo of Karl Larson and Liz Pearse are thrilled to present this true treasure of 20th century literature.
The text to mvt. X of Harawi, “Amour oiseau d’étoile”, describes Sir Roland Penrose’s painting “Seeing is Believing (L'Ile Invisible)”. Having viewed the painting in an art journal, Messiaen considered this image to symbolically represent the whole of Harawi.
“…Your head inverted under the sky
Your eye of star, tumbling chains, towards the stars
…Far from the tableau my hands sing,
Star, augmented silence of the sky.
My hands, your eye, your neck, the sky”

This performance is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Elizabeth Pearse

Soprano Liz Pearse finds joy in variety, reflected in performances spanning from medieval chamber works to world premieres of operatic and solo literature. 2013 proved Liz’s busiest season to date, with performances around North America and Europe - including her (le) poisson rouge solo debut, and appearances at the Toronto Electroacoustic Symposium and the soundSCAPE Festival, where she was voted “Outstanding Performer”.
A fearless contemporary musician, Liz has sung several cornerstone works of 20th century literature, including Pierrot lunaire and Ancient Voices of Children. As one-fourth of Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, she has frequented several new music series - Permutations, Contagious Sounds, Philip Glass: Music with Friends, the Color Field Festival, and the MACCM New Music Festival.
On the recital stage, Liz has received critical praise for her interpretations of repertoire from Schubert to Schoenberg, Britten to Babbitt. In addition, her love of opera has led to leading roles in Le nozze di Figaro, The Merry Widow, and Don Giovanni, among others. She currently performs with Michigan Opera Theatre Chorus, and has appeared onstage at Toledo Opera, Indiana University, and BGSU.

Karl Larson

Pianist Karl Larson is a devoted teacher, chamber musician, and soloist. Described by I Care If You Listen as “a performer with a tremendous amount of precision and skill,” Larson is an avid interpreter of contemporary music. Karl has premiered many solo piano and chamber works, including David Rakowski’s recently completed Preludes for Piano: Book I, which he subsequently recorded in 2012. Karl is also well versed in the canonic repertoire of the 20th century with performances spanning from Boulez to Reich. Recent performances of note include Morton Feldman’s Triadic Memories at the Contagious Sounds Series in Manhattan and the Center for New Music in San Francisco, John Cage’s HPSCHD at the Eyebeam in Manhattan, and Tristan Perich’s Dual Synthesis for harpsichord and one-bit electronics.
A sought after collaborator, Karl has consistently engaged in adventurous performances both inside and outside of academia. He is a founding member of the Color Field Ensemble, and has performed with Mantra Percussion, the ECO Ensemble, the Sleeping Giant Composer Collective, West 4th New Music, Opera On Tap, Contemporaneous, and the Bowling Green State University New Music Ensemble. He currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.