But it’s really more like four and a half to five hours. That’s what John Kennedy, director of the Music in Time series, told the audience today about the upcoming performance of Morton Feldman’s large-scale work For Philip Guston. It’s for chamber ensemble and it lasts nearly five hours.
Kennedy said Feldman’s masterpiece is demanding in the same way that Wagner’s operas are demanding. Instead of an opera, though, Feldman wrote his epic for a chamber group. Kennedy told us that people have expressed alarm and skepticism about his choice of programming for the last Music in Time concert.
He said that he felt their pain but that no one will be forced to stay for the duration. He and his staff plan to set up the Recital Hall so that concertgoers can come and go, “as quietly as possible.” You can stay for 90 minutes and then leave if you wish. Kennedy encouraged us to stay and experience the entire work.
I’m also on the fence about going. But I think I will. I’m not making a commitment just yet. But I really enjoyed the Music in Time series. I have really come to trust Kennedy’s judgment. If he says that there’s a cathartic element to Feldman’s piece that I’ll likely never have a chance to hear again, I’m willing to listen.