© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture
The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world. To listen to KPAC 88.3 FM, simply open the player in the gray ribbon at the top of this page and choose KPAC: Classical Music.

Vespers Or Vision Quest? Soulful Music For A Violin In Flight

Vespers, the traditional late afternoon prayer service, gets an enigmatic twist in a new video by director James Darrah, premiered here, with music from Missy Mazzoli, performed by the spirited violinist Olivia De Prato. The track is from her new album, Streya.

The narrative, shot in slow-motion, opens with dancer Sam Shapiro's character, heavy with sleep, stirring on a sun-drenched morning. It mysteriously unfolds as a kind of barefoot vision quest in the Mojave Desert, progressing from morning to mid-day, from a flaming sunset to a nighttime bonfire, and finally back to daylight. In a final, inscrutable shot, Shapiro takes a drag from a cigarette and turns to the camera.

Could it all be just a dream?

The music is less ambiguous, though deliciously disorienting in its own right. Mazzoli extracted strings, voices and organ sounds from her 2015 suite Vespers for a New Dark Age, suffused them with a wash of electronics and fronted them with a soaring solo violin. De Prato — violinist for Mazzoli's band Victoire and co-founder of the Mivos Quartet — opens with a raspy thread of tone, emerging from a haze to shift between elastic, slithery scales and punchy flourishes, gradually reaching the upper register of her instrument while a scrim of ethereal voices wafts by.

Darrah, who directed Mazzoli's well-received 2017 opera Breaking the Waves, may have constructed his own cryptic vision of the traditional evening vespers — but in the music, there's no mistaking that De Prato and Mazzoli are out to dismantle it.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.