Melissa Barnard | 'Louange à l’Éternité de Jésus'

This special performance was made in collaboration with photographer Stephen Dupont who has curated a selection of photographs in response to the music, and features Brenda Jones on piano.

Melissa says of the piece: “The idea of creating a visual/musical poem came to me very early one morning when I awoke to a luminous, pastel sunrise over the craggy Illawarra escarpment. I’d been mulling over what I might record next, and on seeing that light, Messiaen’s celebrated and transcendent Louange from the Quartet for the End of Time immediately came, out of nowhere, into my mind.”

Stephen says of the piece, "When Melissa approached to collaborate with her on a project supported by the ACO, as part of series of short films they were making with their musicians in home isolation, I was thrilled with the idea. Melissa sent me an eight-minute composition by Olivier Messiaen from “The Quartet for the End of Time”. I’d never heard it before and I listened to it over and over again allowing my feelings and reactions to inspire a visual kind of poem in my mind. I didn’t want to read up about the history and meanings around the piece, I wanted to react spontaneously, letting my senses choose the photographs.

I wanted to make a film that combined the live performances of two musicians, Melissa and pianist Brenda Jones, intercut to the music score and photographs. In my selection of pictures, I responded organically to what the music was saying and how it was affecting me. The opening score felt like the beginning of time, which slowly evolved into an exploration of our planet. It climaxed into an apocalyptic nightmare, ravaging the world, before seamlessly sliding back to a new beginning, a rebirth. It made me think about what was happening in the world now; the climate crisis, black lives matter movements and the virus. The world was unraveling into this abyss of uncertainty, and so I chose to visually reflect these current fragile times. If History teaches us anything, it is that we do not listen. Maybe this film can be a lesson from darkness."