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The Bright Divide

Main Stage

Rothko Chapel by American composer Morton Feldman was written for the opening of the “Rothko Chapel” in Houston, Texas, a non-denominational spiritual space containing 14 paintings by the iconic Mark Rothko. Feldman wrote, “Rothko’s imagery goes right to the edge of his canvas, and I wanted the same effect with the music.” His evocative score is a dialogue with Rothko’s paintings featuring a solo viola, played exquisitely by internationally renowned virtuoso Steven Dann. It’s also an homage to The Chapel, created “to illuminate our shared humanity, inspiring actions towards treating all with dignity and respect.”

mark will be a world premiere by Canadian composer Cecilia Livingston with text by Duncan McFarlane, responding both to Feldman’s piece and to Rothko’s art itself. mark offers a ritual of light and darkness: exploring this ‘Bright Divide’, the spiritual tensions in Rothko’s work, and the tensions between Rothko’s earlier bright colour fields and the sombre refinement of the Chapel paintings. Known for her powerful, dramatic creations for singers, Livingston contrasts soloist and ensemble, viola and voice, to evoke what Robert Hughes called the ‘breathing intensity’ of Rothko’s paintings—that sense of awe and contemplation.

The Bright Divide Digital Program


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Morton Feldman
Rothko Chapel (1971)

Cecilia Livingston, music
Duncan McFarlane, text
mark (2023)

Tim Albery
Stage Director

David Fallis
Conductor/Music Director

Soundstreams Choir 21 – featuring Alex Samaras (vocal soloist in mark)

Steven Dann
Solo Viola

Ryan Scott

Gregory Oh

Siobhán Sleath
Lighting Designer

Cameron Davis
Projection Designer

This concert is sponsored by Denton Creighton and Kristine Vikmanis.

Presented in partnership with Pinkhouse Productions

Soundstreams is pleased to support the Institute for Canadian Citizenship‘s new campaign, Canada’s Difference Makers, which honours and celebrates the newcomers who make a difference for Canada every day in support of our shared success. Soundstreams is a proud partner of the Institute’s Canoo Access Pass, which gives newcomers free tickets to our concerts.