Happy New Year to you and your family. Today we begin our 10th Anniversary Celebration, titled BRIDGES. This celebration of music has become so colossal, brimming with dozens of guests and projects, that it will span two full years. Announcements on our public performance dates (in-person and streamed), as well as our album and project releases, are forthcoming.
Unfortunately, we begin this celebration during a dark time when so many among us are ill. In order to deliver warmth and beauty into every home, we will release a new video every Monday which highlights aspects of our musical work. You'll see videos of the partners and guests we are working with all around the world, as well as our musicians here at home.
We will kick off the first of 104 weeks of "Music Monday" with a video from closest to home. It highlights Cuatro Puntos Ensemble performing in Cuatro Puntos' home space, Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. This video also carries the same name as our celebratory season, BRIDGES. Click below to watch. It is 16 minutes long, so grab your tea and enjoy this musical and architectural tour.
More about BRIDGES:
Bridges was written in 2021 to celebrate the transformative restoration of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut. This magnificent building was built in 1828 and became the cathedral for the Episcopal Church in Connecticut in 1919, It has had a worshipping community operating continuously since 1762. Now, in 2021, the cathedral has undergone remodeling that transforms it into a multi-purpose space, allowing it to continue to serve as a cathedral and place of worship while also serving the community as a hub for arts and culture. The renewed space retains its art and key architecture from the past while modernizing to meet the needs of the 21st century. Bridges explores both the physical space and the human artistic energy imbued in this historic structure, while bridging past musical traditions with the present and future.
The piece is written for three violins, two violas, cello, guitar, and tower chimes. It begins with a melody shared between a single cello and violin that evokes ancient times of creation. All the instruments come together in an undulating wash of sound, increasing upward in pitch and intensity. The sound becomes more and more chaotic, until all instruments land on a very high note before sliding down, down, down into the depths until all that is left is the rumble of a cello. Then slowly, from among the background noise, a melody starts to take shape. Individual notes ring out from various locations in the cathedral, with all the musicians spread out around the building. The solitary notes gradually coalesce into a melody modeled after an Anglican plainchant, a musical form popular in the 18th century. By the time the melody has completely coalesced, it takes the form of a double chant. This was the most common form of Anglican chant used in the 19th century, the most likely type of music sung in the Christ Church Cathedral building during its first 100 years, and a tradition that continues today.
A gloriously simple iteration of the chant rings out in D minor from all locations in the building before a transitional section begins. During this transition the chant slowly morphs into more modern contexts, using rhythm and harmony increasingly indicative of 20th century church traditions. The musicians physically move within the space too, gradually congregating downstairs and making use of the new open floor plan of the cathedral.
The middle section stylistically shifts as the strings are joined by guitar. A clear, repetitive reggae beat takes over, and the string players use the body of their instruments for percussion. The melody in this section is created using the original Anglican chant heard earlier, but modernized and made groovy. A scalar flourish then reintroduces the original chant melody for the final section: however this time it is in major instead of minor, harmonized with full and warm chordal complexity, and joined by the beautiful chimes of the cathedral’s tower. This D major return of the chant, with all the musicians in the center of the cathedral, explores a spatial and acoustic contrast to the earlier D minor iteration of the chant, when the musicians were spread out around the building.
Bridges is dedicated in thanksgiving for the episcopate of the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Ph.D. It was commissioned by Christ Church Cathedral and premiered in that location for the Episcopal Church In Connecticut convention on October 23, 2021.
- Kevin Bishop, composer
Cuatro Puntos Ensemble
Aaron Packard - violin
Annie Trépanier - violin
Steve Larson - viola
Kevin Bishop - viola
Allan Ballinger - cello
the music ministry directors of Christ Church Cathedral
Marianne Vogel - violin / tower chimes
Pedro Luis Cirilo Coral - guitar
Composer: Kevin Bishop
Lighting Design: Stacey Kohl
Audio Recording/Editing: Kevin Bishop
Videography/Editing: Kevin Bishop
Commissioned by Christ Church Cathedral at the request of
The Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, Cathedral Dean