The Rebirth of R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis

Neil Crory, Musical Toronto

Luminato festival: Apocalypsis,R. Murray Schafer (Composer) Lemi Ponifasio (Director). Sony Centre, Sunday.

Toronto’s Luminato festival wound up this past weekend at the Sony Centre with three arresting performances of R. Murray Schafer’s monumental, Apocalypsis – a work that was premiered in London, Ontario, in 1980. Apart from a single performance of Part Two (the Credo) at Massey Hall in the late 1990s by SoundStreams, Apocalypsis has never received a complete second performance.

“Apocalypsis,” as the 82-year-old composer so succinctly puts it in the programme notes, “is a work in two parts. Part One describes the destruction of the world and Part Two suggests the birth of the new universe.” What he doesn’t mention is that the work (based in part on the Book of Revelation and Psalm 148) runs well over 2 hours without an intermission. As this is a spatial work and meant to wrap around the audience, part of the orchestral and choral forces were placed in the balcony of the Sony Centre with the audience taking up the main floor.

Read the complete review online.