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Harbison to premiere motet at Vatican

Composer and Institute Professor John Harbison has been commissioned to write a sacred motet that will premiere at the Vatican on Jan. 17. The theme of the concert is reconciliation among Christians, Jews and Muslims, for which Harbison has selected a text from the Book of Genesis about Abraham, a patriarch in all three religions.

The concept for the concert came from Gilbert Levine, who will conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony and singers from the London Philharmonic, Krakow Philharmonic and Ankara Polyphonic Choir in the presence of Pope John Paul II.

"I was honored to be invited by Maestro Levine to compose a piece as Prologue, speaking directly in contemporary terms to the themes of the concert," said Harbison. "In these difficult times, the music centers on the name and spirit of Abraham as a bridge, a mode of communication, a point of commonality."

The invited audience will include representatives and special guests from all three faiths. The Pittsburgh Symphony will be the first American orchestra to perform at the Vatican. The concert will also include Mahler's Symphony No. 2.

Jonas shows work at Queens museum

"Five Works: Joan Jonas," the first large survey of work by video/installation artist and architecture professor Joan Jonas, can be seen at at the Queens (N.Y.) Museum of Art through March 14. The exhibition presents seminal pieces from each period in Jonas' career, including "Organic Honey's Visual Telepathy," "The Juniper Tree," "Volcano Saga," "Revolted by the Thought of Known Places..." and "Woman in a Well."

Jonas is considered one of the important women artists to emerge from the late 1960s and 1970s. Working in New York as a sculptor, by 1968 she moved into what was then considered new territory--mixing performance with props and mediated images, situated indoors and outdoors in natural or industrial environments. Jonas will perform "Lines in the Sand" (originally commissioned for Documenta XI) at The Kitchen (512 West 19th St., New York, N.Y.; on Feb. 16-18 and Feb. 25-28.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 17, 2003.

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