In a rare and masterful combination of old avant-garde film and contemporary classical music, "Voices of Light" will provide a new, sensual experience to the compelling story of Joan of Arc.
From the moment it premiered in 1928, Carl Theodore Dreyer's film "The Passion of Joan of Arc" was different than any film before it. For a silent film it had an unbelievably urgent sense of passion, drama and agony. The close-ups of Maria Falconetti's haunting eyes and the way she carried herself with such dignity and grace made for an unparalleled experience in cinematic history.
The New York Times said the film "takes precedence over anything that has so far been produced. It makes worthy pictures of the past look like tinsel shams." To this day it appears contemporary, even experimental.
When composer Richard Einhorn saw the film, he fell in love with it. More than that, he became obsessed, embarking on the path to create a "Voices of Light", a composition that merges the avant-garde film masterpiece with solo voices, chorus and orchestra. It draws off Latin, Italian and Medieval French texts from female mystics to serve as the voices Joan hears. The piece itself is not religious but captures the rapture of a religious experience through music.
Critics deemed Einhorn's work to have the same timeless nature as its inspiration: "Einhorn's score...is of it's time...It's also from another time with it's ancient Latin and Old French mystical texts. Taken together, it's timeless in it's appeal" [sic]. After touring around the world, "Voices of Light" will show at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, conducted by Marin Alsop and featuring the Baltimore Symphony and the UC Choral Ensembles.
In spite of all his success, Einhorn remains wholly devoted to serving the film that captivated him so long ago. He said in an interview: The thing I’m most proud of is that probably more people have seen the film in performances of Voices of Light than saw it in the entire history of the film before."
Visit the University of California Performances website for more ticket information and check out a clip from the film "The Passion of Joan of Arc". (We have to warn you, we've never gotten so teary-eyed from a YouTube video before.)
An earlier version of the final line stated the Boston Symphony Orchestra would perform. This has been corrected to say the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform.