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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University music faculty will perform Olivier Messiaen's "Quartet for the End of Time," on Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building at Bucknell.
The performance is free and open to the public. Guest violinist John Eaken will join Bucknell faculty Colleen Hartung, clarinet; Andrew Rammon, cello; and Sezi Seskir, piano.
Near the beginning of World War II Messiaen was summoned for military service. He was captured in May 1940 and taken to a prisoner-of-war camp in Silesia. He wrote "Quartet for the End of Time" for instruments on hand among the camp's inmates in the winter of 1940-41. The first performance took place before a large audience of prisoners.
"Quartet" is a sequence of eight movements that derive from this passage from Revelations: "I saw a mighty angel descend from heaven, clad in mist; and a rainbow was upon his head. His face was like the sun, his feet like pillars of fire. He set his right foot on the sea, his left foot on the earth, and standing thus on sea and earth he lifted his hand to heaven and swore by Him who liveth for ever and ever, saying: There shall be time no longer; but on the day of the trumpet of the seventh angel, the mystery of God shall be finished."
Messiaen's understanding of this passage speaks not to a vision of the Apocalypse, nor to his own situation as a prisoner, but to the idea of the end of time as the end of past and future and the beginning of eternity. The music was meant to be an extension of the Angel of the Apocalypse's words with particular musical meaning, for Messiaen was no longer interested in time as rhythm. He did not want to hear steady rhythms like military drums, and instead aspired to rhythms outside of time.
Eaken, who is concertmaster of the York Symphony, studied at the Settlement Music School and the New School of Music in Philadelphia, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Messiah College and a Master of Arts degree in Music Performance from Temple University. As a recitalist, he frequently performs throughout the United States. Eaken also is a member of the Eaken Piano Trio with 'cellist Andrew Rammon and pianist Gloria Whitney. They made their Carnegie Hall debut on March 7, 1993, to a sold out audience and returned for repeat performances in 1998 and 2000. The Trio tours throughout the United States and has toured in Europe eight times. In the summer of 2008 they performed multiple concerts in China with the Pennsylvania Ambassadors of Music. The Trio has released eight CDs including the Grammy-nominated "Home for the Holidays."
Hartung, also a music professor at Susquehanna University, received her Doctor of Musical Arts at Michigan State University and earned her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She has performed with the Jackson Symphony, the Roanoke Symphony, Opera Roanoke, the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, the Ashlawn Opera Festival, the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra, and was a founding member of the Sunderman Woodwind Quintet. She also has been a participant at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Her teachers include Robert Listokin, Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, Mark Nuccio, Brian Moorehead and Wesley Foster.
Rammon is an adjunct lecturer in music at Susquehanna University and Lycoming College as well as an instructor of chamber music for the summer program at Pepperdine University. He performs with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra and the Eaken Piano Trio. He is the founder and music director of the string camp held at Pepperdine as well as the founder and music director of Cellobration annual cello festival involving students and professional cellists. He received his M.M. in Performance degree from The Cleveland Institute of Music and his B.A. in Music from Pepperdine University Frankfurter Musikhochschule.
Seskir received her first degree in piano in her native Ankara, Turkey, and went on with her studies in Lübeck Musikhochschule, in Germany with Prof. Konstanze Eickhorst, where in 2005 she completed degrees both in artistic and pedagogical piano. She completed her D.M.A. degree with Malcolm Bilson at Cornell University. Along with many solo recitals she has given in Europe, the United States and Turkey, she also has performed with various orchestras as a soloist. Her research focuses on the use of tempo rubato in Robert Schumann's keyboard music, as well as historical keyboards and performance practices of the 18th and the 19th centuries.