Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gnosis in Song will be performed at Rothko Chapel

Last year for the Codex Judas Congress, I put together a concert of Gnostic prayers, hymns, and poems which I call "Gnosis in Song". This will be reperformed on Friday, May 15, 7 p.m. in Rothko Chapel. See poster for details.

Since the Gnostic texts contain so many performance pieces that were originally liturgies used in Gnostic worship, I wondered what the experience would be like to hear and see them performed, to bring them alive from the written page. I also used as inspiration the idea, "What if? What if the Gnostic traditions had become orthodox rather than the Catholic?" So I approached Sonja Bruzauskas, a well-known mezzo soprano in Houston who is the artist behind Divas World, and asked her to set some of the liturgies I had translated to medieval chant music. She was excited and asked Becky Baxter, a well-known harpist in Houston, to join her. When they invited me to hear what they came up with in the studio, I was shocked. They had achieved beyond what I could imagine.

So this is it. This is the only reperformance of the materials scheduled. We are very fortunate that Rothko wanted to hold this second performance a year after the Codex Judas Congress performance. The performance is free, but admission is limited to the first 200 guests.

Also, there will be airing at noon Wednesday the 13th on KUFH, npr station out of the University of Houston, during FRONT ROW show, an interview with Sonja, Becky and I about "Gnosis in Song." Sonja and Becky perform three pieces during the interview.


Bob MacDonald said...

If you have a real pair of musicians performing, the music speaks for itself. Space and time share their witness.

David said...

Any chance of a CD or MPEG downloads?

Ulrich Schmid said...

What kind of "medieval chant music" is this? And what's the idea of using this for performing Gnostic Hymns?

James F. McGrath said...

I'd love to be able to hear the result!

On a related subject, presumably you are aware of the very small number of other compositions featuring extracanonical texts? The only genuinely "Gnostic" one is probably Gustav Holst's "Hymn of Jesus" (from the Acts of John), which I listen to with my students every time I teach my "Heresy" course.

There's also a setting of a few of the Odes of Solomon by Alan Hovhaness, and Joaquin Rodrigo (yes, the one who composed Concierto de Aranjuez) set some "Qumran Neophyte Hymns" to music.

There ought to be more "extracanonical music", but ought not the music it is set to be a bit more "heretical" too? :)

David said...


I just started a web site for music of change. Do you think any of the music you mentioned would fit that theme? Interfaith, out-of-the-box, gnostic, etc.?

Music of ChangeStill developing the concept.

Jared Calaway said...

I also chime in with everyone else that hopefully there will be a way to disseminate this music for those of us who cannot be there or pick up Houston stations.

Next we need to put the Coptic itself to music! ;)

Unknown said...

--Listen to online Internet Radio - RADIO KUHF at noon Wednesday 13th to THE FRONT LINE show. I think it's on the KUHF Classical Channel.

--Here's the Link:


r said...

Thank you for organizing this, April. Gail and I really enjoyed ourselves. The music and singing were beautiful and the lectures were helpful.


PS. Hazel had so much fun playing with Alex. She loves him to bits.