Forty loudspeakers, each carrying the voice of an individual singer is creating a "transcendent" experience at New York City’s Cloisters museum, reports Jim Dwyer in The New York Times (9/20/13). In fact, the resulting performance of "The Forty Part Motet" is so powerful it moves its listeners to tears, and in some cases beyond words. "It’s too soon to talk," said Margaret Cardenas. "I’m kind of out of it – I can’t articulate it. Each speaker is a different person. It’s not something you think about: you feel it."
Margaret was in the area for a wedding, and traveling into the city "specifically to see a monumental installation by James Turrell in the rotunda of the Guggenheim Museum. Then she heard about the Forty Part Motet and trekked uptown." She says the Motet was "cooler, honestly, than Turrell." Others simply happened upon the performance, which was located in a 12th century Spanish chapel tucked into the Cloisters." "We had no idea it was here and then we heard it all along as we went around the exhibits," says Bengt Ehlim, a tourist from Sweden.
The experience is "rendered by the multimedia artist Janet Cardiff," using a year 2000 recording of the piece, "composed by Thomas Tallis sometime in the 16th century … What started as one microphone per singer is now a choir of black high-fidelity speakers arrayed in an oval, eight groupings of soprano, alto, tenor, baritone and bass." The work had previously been featured at MoMa, however, Jeff Gray, who had heard it there, said the chapel gave it a whole new vibe. "The kind of ghost qualities are a lot more apparent here," he says, "you kind of feel it float around you."