Friday February 18th 2011
The evenings when we open the Cathedral labyrinth to the public have become real focal points in my life. Each month we welcome a different musician to warm up the labyrinth and create a meditative soundscape.
Kevin Hassell and Bruce Nicol are long time friends, both well skilled musicians, both with considerable depth of knowledge and experience with liturgical music. Working from various historic pieces of plainchant they wove together an evocative contemporary feel using a portativ organ, cello, guitar and alto recorder along with voice, creating a musical setting befitting our Cathedral Labyrinth.
Bruce and Kevin moved between instruments each taking a turn at the organ. They played the organ in the usual manner and then at times would slip a pencil between one or two of the organ keys to create a drone as harmonic baseline for the other instruments. They rotated the instruments in a well coordinated way offering a gentle blend of instrumental along with moments of sung plainchant. I think they were using a taizé chant, repeating the same line over and over in a meditative wave of sound. I found myself quietly singing along, adding my own harmonies as I felt the urge.
The music carried with it an embedded narrative, however it was not accessible to me. For Kevin and Bruce the music told specific stories but for me it brought layers of images. I imagined generations of devoted monks processing and chanting in the hallowed spaces of stone churches from the past. It brought back many memories of my time at Chartres Cathedral in France.
There was quite a bit of traffic at the art tables and by the end of the evening there was a collection of paintings that illustrated the richness and quality of what participants had experienced. After all it was a most satisfying and peaceful evening. A wonderful and welcome pause in the midst of a busy life.
Have a look at the Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/user/creativelabyrinth?feature=mhee#p/u/2/ekpBMXwOpwY