Visions de l'Amen

Eric Zivian and Sarah Cahill in San Francisco

Eric Zivian and Sarah Cahill in San Francisco

Chris Castro IV-I for Two Pianos WORLD PREMIERE

Philip Acimovic Reverent Murmurs for Two Pianos WORLD PREMIERE

Olivier MessiaenVisions de l’Amen for Two Pianos

Olivier Messiaen’s towering Visions de l’Amen for two pianos, performed by keyboard champions Eric Zivian and Sarah Cahill. Colorful, mystical, and glorious, it sometimes sounds like all the church bells in Paris ringing at once! 

Doors open an hour before concerts. Open seating. 


SF Conservatory of Music
50 Oak Street, San Francisco [directions]
Monday, February 5, 2018, 7:30 PM

Berkeley Piano Club
2724 Haste Street, Berkeley [directions]
Thursday, February 1, 2018, 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 3, 2018, 7:30 PM   

Get to know the music!

The works of Olivier Messiaen were described by The New York Times as "kaleidoscopically majestic and mystical," and we couldn't agree more. Particularly this towering piano duet, Visions de l'Amen, composed in 1943 after Messiaen was released from a prisoner of war camp. With movements such as "Amen of Creation," "Amen of the stars, of the ringed planet," and "Amen of Judgement," Messiaen take the listener on a journey from Genesis through Revelation.

It is said that Messiaen experienced synesthesia, where one sense is perceived by the brain with one or more additional senses; he stated in a 1988 interview, "I see colors when I hear sounds." With each key representing a different color palette, the composer truly shares with us his "Visions" of Amen.

As a prelude to Messiaen's grand work, we present two world premiere piano duets inspired by Visions de l'Amen:

Chris Castro, IV - I for Two Pianos
"Messiaen said he 'tried to express the varied riches of Amen' in his piece. For me, the word Amen has long been associated with a certain harmonic cadence, the plagal cadence, or IV - I. This cadence is hinted at throughout the work and can be most clearly heard in the passage leading to the climax."

Philip Acimovic, Reverent Murmurs for Two Pianos
"Reverent Murmurs is designed as a passage from reality to Messiaen’s world. With its murky wanderings and brief, quiet surges, I aim to generate a relaxed state of concentration in the listener, arising just as the murmurs end and the visions begin."

Image credit: Copyright Tom Killion, used by permission of Artist. Tom Killion is a print artist and native of the left coast. He creates stunning woodblock prints of the California coast and much more. The banner image is a detail of "Pt. Lobos from Carmel Point".