Last week I went up to the Cloisters—the Medieval outpost of the Metropolitan Museum—to see a beautiful new exhibition that's been getting rave reviews. It's called The Forty Part Motet and it's a sound art piece by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff which features forty special speakers each playing one vocal part in a powerfully moving choral piece by Tudor composer Thomas Tallis. The work is usually shown in the blank white boxes of contemporary art museums and modern art galleries, but someone got the brilliant idea to install the piece in the cathedral-like atmosphere of The Cloisters. Listening to the gorgeous music, with each voice distinct and blended at once, while sitting in front of beautiful religious artwork from hundreds of years ago becomes almost reverential. One feels like you are sitting in the middle of the chorus, surrounded by singers, transported back in time and place to a church service in the Middle Ages (though the choral piece is technically from circa 1555-1575).
Trust me when I say that this is an incredible installation, not be missed. It's a bit of a trek up to the museum, but it is well worth the visit to see this show, which closes December 8!
Learn more about the exhibition and hear a clip of Tallis' choral piece here.