Last week we were in Minneapolis visiting friends, one of whom is in the men’s vocal ensemble pictured above. Cantus was performing a short concert at the Walker Art Center’s Open Field, a public space near downtown Minneapolis. The first set was a short 15-minute or so performance outside the Art Center, and it was cool.
But the real coolness came when they performed some atmospheric and improvisational music in James Turrell’s Sky Pesher, an open-air art installation. The acoustics in the art piece were amazing…the resulting tones from the improvisational number were like something from a science fiction movie, but a good one, like 2001 or Star Trek IV (“don’t tell me they don’t have money in the 23rd century!”)
The improvisation was based on Indian modes, and the dynamic swell was breathtaking in the confined space. I closed my eyes the entire time, just sort of seeing what I would see and feeling what I would feel, and this proved a solid strategy. It was like tripping acid (which I’ve never done) without having to trip acid (which, again, I’ve never done). I saw colors, I saw shapes, I saw stars, I saw darkness, I saw light. It was as religious an experience as I’ve had. I’m not sure if Jesus or Muhammad or anyone else had any place there that night, but it was a reminder that, if nothing else, music is beautiful and true, and that’s at least enough to get you through this world.
Now I just need to coerce Cantus to come do that at my house for like 3 hours so I can meditate and get myself into a deep trance. Thanks, Cantus!