In its inaugural year, Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival knocked my socks off. The two events I attended, The Manganiyar Seduction (featuring 41 musicians named Khan) were simply astonishing productions. So it is with great excitement that I await this years White Light Festival.
The festival begins with a free event with Malian musician Bassekou Kouyate on October 20th at the David Rubenstein Atrium and then continues with so much more.
“From the powerful opening chords of Beethoven’s Missa solemnis to an exploration of light itself by Jennifer Tipton, to a meditation by Toni Morrison, Peter Sellars, and Rokia Traoré on the darkness of the soul that leads to the transcendence of love, the White Light Festival offers experiences of passionate beauty and occasions of profound insight into the many dimensions of our individual selves and the collective shared forces of the human condition. The Festival closes in a fitting fashion with the bonding power of spiritual ecstasy as Ensemble Sarband, joined by whirling dervishes from the Muslim Mevlevi tradition, draws startling connections between J.S. Bach’s Passions and the Sufi mystics.
In our technology-driven and distracted world, authentic encounters with one’s interior self and its inherent potential are increasingly infrequent. Throughout human history remarkable works of music and art have helped show us the extraordinary dimensions of human experience and life that lie within all of us—if only we pause in our rush to the finish line and turn our gaze inward. The White Light Festival hopes to provide moments to pause and explore the spaciousness and breath within.”
PopMatters is particularly looking forward to the premiere (and closing event) of Passio-Compassio on November 19th described as “Western and Middle Eastern musicians come together with the music of Bach in this rapturous close to the second White Light Festival. Ensemble Sarband, a group long dedicated to musically bridging East and West, joins a choir, saxophonists, and a string quartet in Arabic and jazz arrangements of Bach’s Passions, combining them with early Christian chant. This extraordinary cultural cooperation is framed by the meditative dance ritual of Sufi whirling dervishes from Turkey’s Mevlevi Order. Art transcends hate: passio becomes compassio.”
Additionally, the festival will also set a live score from Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) to the film The Passion of Joan of Arc on October 29th. “In this rare screening, a powerful film is reimagined through a beautiful, plangent world of sound. A masterpiece of silent cinema that shaped generations of filmmaking, the 1928 French film The Passion of Joan of Arc chronicles Joan’s trial, imprisonment, torture, and execution. Here, the film is paired with a live U.S. premiere performance of a new score composed and performed by Adrian Utley, of the group Portishead, and Will Gregory, of the electronic music duo Goldfrapp, along with six electric guitars, a choir, harps, percussion, horns, and keyboards.”