The Hero’s Journey in the Labyrinth

I can’t remember exactly where the idea of pairing John Burke and Antonia Pigot came from, but it proved to be a winning combination. Both musicians have played previously for our “Labyrinth as Sanctuary” program. However, this was the first time they worked together.

John Burke was the first musician we invited to work with our Cathedral labyrinth back in October of 2009 and in the past two years we have created several opportunities to collaborate with him around the theme of the labyrinth. John is primarily a composer whose interest in the labyrinth has drawn him into the role of performer. Now he finds himself composing in the moment and collaborating with a vocalist who performs in the moment.  Antonia Pigot is a trained and practiced improviser, who is very much at home responding and creating in the “present tense”. It was fascinating to watch them work together, developing strategies and trying out musical ideas. I sat in on one of their early rehearsals and was intrigued at how quickly they established common ground and working strategies.

John Burke and Antonia Pigot

The Hero’s Journey is a longtime theme of John’s, he sees it paralleled in the experience of walking the labyrinth. John uses a seed pattern of twelve chords which  he created to set out in musical terms the stages of the hero’s journey. These twelve chords formed the pattern and basis for an improvised collaboration between piano and voice. The structure of the seed pattern is based in the notion of the transformative archetype which has a definite trajectory from beginning through challenges to resolution. But it is the improvisation that brings it to life and gives it newness and a customized platform to support the real life journey of the participants who are walking the labyrinth.

(link to John’s Burke’s website)

The music helps to lulls the participant into the liminal space between two worlds, where it is possible to make a shift, to see things in a different light and to integrate this new aspect of the self into our ongoing journey of life.

Antonia created a complimentary choir effect using an electronic sound looping device. Without words she created a personalized story line, not unlike listening to someone sing in a foreign language. Her delicate and inventive touch was like hearing the voices of the mystics or perhaps the angels. Emotive and expressive, longing and hauntingly beautiful.

A better pairing I can’t imagine. A labyrinth walk is to a great degree an unknowable thing. We never know who will show up, and exactly what will happen, so given those parameters, improvisational music is the way to go.

I was quiet tired from my busy day of facilitating and preparing, yet had a desire to experience the effect of the music while walking the labyrinth. By the time I had finished I was refreshed with renewed energy and further intrigued to take in the dynamics of the music. What a gift on a rainy Friday night!


2 thoughts on “The Hero’s Journey in the Labyrinth

  1. Barbara – many thanks to you and Vanessa for creating this special space and for hosting and facilitating these events. For one of my friends it was a first-time labyrinth experience – and here is what she said…- it was an expansive and fun evening!

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to hear feedback and we do appreciate you support and participation. We must be on the right path!

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