Loading Events

« All Events

Olivier Messiaen: Vingt regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus

Presented by The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture

Monday, December 10, 2018 @ 7:30PM


Anthony de Mare
Margaret Kampmeier
Taka Kigawa
Blair McMillen
Marilyn Nonken

Five of New York’s most distinguished contemporary pianists join together to perform Olivier Messiaen’s monumental and profound Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus (Twenty Gazes on the Infant Jesus) in a theatrical evening of music accompanied by visual projections, compiled by Fr. Frank Sabatté, C.S.P., Senior Curator of The Gallery at the Sheen Center.

“One of the pinnacles of the piano repertoire, this work has accrued iconic status and deep respect, expressing joie de vivre, conviction, love, hope and ecstasy, an expression of Messiaen’s deeply-held Catholic faith – a faith which involved sound and silence, beauty and terror, joy, love and an all-embracing sense of awe. It is music that puts listener and performer in touch with something far greater than ourselves, and yet one does not have to have religious faith to appreciate the enormity and emotional breadth of this work. Messiaen has an unerring ability to ‘ground’ the music in a way that makes it more accessible through his use of recurring motifs and devices, and these elements also give this tremendous work a cohesive, comprehensive structure. It is only by hearing the work in one sitting, that one can fully appreciate Messiaen’s compositional skill and vision. Like a great symphony, the work moves inexorably through its movements towards a gripping finale.” –Frances Wilson (Interlude)

About the work

Messiaen uses Thèmes or leitmotifs, recurring elements that represent certain ideas. They include:

  • Thème de Dieu (“Theme of God”)
  • Thème de l’amour mystique (“Theme of Mystical Love”)
  • Thème de l’étoile et de la croix (“Theme of the Star and of the Cross”)
  • Thème d’accords (“Theme of Chords”)

There are 20 movements:

  1. Regard du Père (“Contemplation of the Father”)
  2. Regard de l’étoile (“Contemplation of the Star”)
  3. L’échange (“The Exchange”)
  4. Regard de la Vierge (“Contemplation of the Virgin”)
  5. Regard du Fils sur le Fils (“Contemplation of the Son upon the Son”)
  6. Par Lui tout a été fait (“Through Him All Things were made”)
  7. Regard de la Croix (“Contemplation of the Cross”)
  8. Regard des hauteurs (“Contemplation of the Heights”)
  9. Regard du temps (“Contemplation of Time”)
  10. Regard de l’Esprit de joie (“Contemplation of the Spirit of Joy”)
  11. Première communion de la Vierge (“First Communion of the Virgin”)
  12. La parole toute-puissante (“The All-Powerful Word”)
  13. Noël (“Christmas”)
  14. Regard des Anges (“Contemplation of the Angels”)
  15. Le baiser de l’Enfant-Jésus (“The Kiss of the Infant Jesus”)
  16. Regard des prophètes, des bergers et des Mages (“Contemplation of the Prophets, the Shepherds and the Magi”)
  17. Regard du silence (“Contemplation of Silence”)
  18. Regard de l’Onction terrible (“Contemplation of the Awesome Anointing”)
  19. Je dors, mais mon cœur veille (“I Sleep, but my Heart keeps Watch”)
  20. Regard de l’Église d’amour (“Contemplation of the Church of Love”)

Tickets: $20/$30 ($15 Student)


Sign up for our email list!

Show your love for Sheen. Support thought and culture that nurtures your mind and nourishes your soul.