Held on the terrace of Thikse Monastery in Ladakh, India, ‘Scriabin in the Himalayas’ was a spectacular concert in tribute to the great mystic and musical genius, Russian composer Alexander Scriabin.
The occasion was fitting as exactly 100 years ago, Scriabin passed on to the finer realms of harmony. His final opus, Mysterium Magnum, was left unfinished, and his bold designs of a seven-day-long, multi-sensory spectacle in a Himalayan monastery sadly had to be abandoned. Our concert was the first performance of the composer’s music ever held at the foothills of the Himalayas - a realisation of his greatest dream over a century after its conception.
The concert took place on the day of the Summer Solstice, a date rich with meaning. The progress of the Sun throughout the year symbolises the process of attaining enlightenment, and Summer Solstice signifies the final climax of this journey, celebrating the triumph of Light over darkness and the union of the Self with the Divine - motifs of paramount importance in Scriabin’s mystical philosophy.
The programme included his greatest works for solo piano interpreted by pianist Matthew Bengtson, never-before heard Vocalises arranged exclusively for tenor Neil Latchman, and two very special world-premieres: Scriabin’s 1st Symphony and 3rd Symphony (“Le Divin Poem”) in arrangements for piano four hands, performed by Coady Green and Christopher Smith for the first time on record.
An interactive light installation designed by Dagny Rewera and Vincent Rebers, and based on the composer’s unique colour-tonal system, brought together sound and vision, alongside an olfactory score of timed scent diffusions prepared by the esteemed perfumer Michel Roudnitska. Finally, the monks of Thikse Monastery provided the element of movement and touch, performing their sacred Tantric dance to Scriabin’s music.
Altogether, this was a moving, symbolic homage to one of the greatest visionaries of the 20th century.
Thikse Gompa is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in central Ladakh, India. Located at an altitude of 3,600 metres (11,800 ft) approximately 19 kilometres east of Leh, Thikse is notable for its resemblance to the famous Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet and commands breath-taking views of the Indus Valley and the Himalayas. It is a twelve-story complex that houses many items of Buddhist art including stupas, statues, thangkas, wall paintings and swords. It also contains the largest statue of Buddha in Ladakh (15m), kept inside Maitreya Temple and famously featured in Ron Fricke’s film ‘Samsara’.