New Year Begins with End of Life Festival Sep. 7 and 8

August 27, 2019

Erich Burnett

Joseph Wright of Derby painting Dovedale by Moonlight
Detail of the Allen Memorial Art Museum's Dovedale by Moonlight, painted by Joseph Wright of Derby about 12 years before his death in 1797.
Photo credit: courtesy Allen Memorial Art Museum

Exploration of mortality and late-career works across the creative spectrum draws upon resources throughout campus.

Sibbi Bernhardsson has long been fascinated by the music composers create late in their careers.

“It’s interesting that many of them turn to chamber music, and they start writing work that is more intimate and more experimental,” says the Oberlin Conservatory professor of violin, a former member of the Pacifica Quartet.

violin professor Sibbi Bernhardsson
Violin professor Sibbi Bernhardsson, coordinator of the End of Life, End of Time festival.

“In talking with people at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, I found that this is actually a theme across the artistic world. And when you think about it, it makes sense that you would focus on the things that are most important to you at that time in your life.”

Bernhardsson has channeled his intrigue into a two-day festival at Oberlin called End of Life, End of Time, an exploration of mortality and late-career works by artists across the creative spectrum. Through performances, poetry readings, lectures, discussions, and a gallery talk, the festival incorporates artistry and insight from faculty, staff, and students across the institution: Oberlin College and Conservatory, as well as the Allen Memorial Art Museum. All events are free.

The festival follows the model of Creative Arts & Music in the Shadow of War: Commemorating the Centenary of WWI,  a similarly collaborative event devised by Bernhardsson that was held on campus in the fall of 2018.

The focus of this year's celebration came about through the desire by Bernhardsson and numerous Oberlin colleagues to perform Olivier Messiaen’s 1941 Quartet for the End of Time, which was composed and premiered while Messiaen was imprisoned in a German POW camp early in World War II. Bernhardsson will perform that work Saturday evening with fellow professors Richard Hawkins on clarinet, Darrett Adkins on cello, and Haewon Song on piano.

Monet's painting Wisteria
Wisteria, by Claude Monet

End of Life, End of Time events begin Saturday, September 7, at the Allen Memorial Art Museum with 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. gallery talks discussing Claude Monet’s painting Wisteria as well as other late-career works on view in the museum’s Print Study Room. They will be led by curator Andrea Gyorody and Emma Laube.

Four concerts taking place over the weekend will feature 18 Oberlin faculty musicians: Bernhardsson; Darrett Adkins, cello; David Bowlin, violin; Angela Cheng, piano; Tony Cho, piano; Scott Cuellar, piano; Kirsten Docter, viola; Amir Eldan, cello; Richard Hawkins, clarinet; James Howsmon, piano; Timothy LeFebvre, baritone; Marilyn McDonald, violin; Robert Shannon, piano; Peter Slowik, viola; Haewon Song, piano; Alexa Still, flute; and Peter Takács, piano.

Also taking part will be the Oberlin College Choir, performing Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary with student instrumentalists, under the direction of conductor Gregory Ristow, on Saturday afternoon; and a student string orchestra, which will perform a movement from Beethoven’s String Quartet, Op. 135, on Sunday evening.

A complete schedule of events is as follows:


10:15 and 11:15 a.m. | Allen Memorial Art Museum
Art-Making at Twilight: Gallery talk on Monet’s Wisteria and other late-career works.

1:30 p.m. | Warner Concert Hall
Faculty concert featuring works by Beethoven, Fauré, Purcell, and Schubert, and poetry read by Associate Professor of English DeSales Harrison. Preceded at 1 p.m. by a talk with Professor of Musicology Charles McGuire.

3:30 p.m. | Stull Recital Hall
Murphy Colloquium Lecture Series: “Musicological, Geological and Classical Perspectives on The End of Time.” Moderated by Charles McGuire and featuring Zeb Page, associate professor of geology; Chris Trinacty, associate professor of classics; and Andrew Shenton, associate professor of musicology at Boston University.

7:30 p.m. | Warner Concert Hall
Faculty concert featuring music by Beethoven, Haydn, and Messiaen, and poems read by Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Chanda Feldman. Preceded at 7 p.m. by a talk with Andrew Shenton.



1:30 p.m. | Warner Concert Hall
Faculty concert featuring music by Shostakovich, Boulanger, Debussy, and Brahms, and poems read by Chanda Feldman. Preceded by a 1 p.m. talk with Andrew Pau, associate professor of music theory.

3:30 p.m. | Stull Recital Hall
"Us at the End: Hearts, Minds, and Souls," a panel discussion moderated by rabbi Megan Doherty, director of Hillel and Jewish Campus Life, and including Associate Professor of Psychology Paul Thibodeau; David Hill, pastor of First Church in Oberlin; Jacques Rutzky, a Buddhist affiliate in Oberlin’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life; and Maysan Haydar, a Muslim affiliate in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life.

7:30 p.m. | Warner Concert Hall
Faculty concert featuring music by Prokofiev, Brahms, Schumann, and Beethoven, and poetry read by DeSales Harrison and Chanda Feldman. Preceded at 7 p.m. by a talk with Professor of Music Theory Brian Alegant.


For more information, visit the Oberlin events calendar.

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