Home #Hwoodtimes Harpist Parker Ramsay Realizes Nico Muhly and Alice Goodman’s The Street at The...

Harpist Parker Ramsay Realizes Nico Muhly and Alice Goodman’s The Street at The Nimoy

Nico Muhly Playing The Street

Bolstered with narration by Mia Barron and hymns by Jennifer Ellis Kampani, this organic multimedia performance is a new take on the visceral spirituality of the 14 Stations of the Cross.

By John Lavitt

Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 03/7/24 – However low I fall, let me not fall far from you.

  • Alice Goodman

At the end of February, harpist Parker Ramsay brought Nico Muhly and Alice Goodman’s incredible artistic investigation of the 14 Stations of the Cross to the Nimoy Theatre. Mixing music and chants with librettist Alice Goodman’s profound “Fourteen Meditations on the Stations of the Cross,” the piece brings multimedia to life. With Alice Goodman’s work read by screen actress Mia Barron, as she walks from the stage and around the theatre, the setting is transformed into a Catholic Church where the stations come to life.

After each meditation on a Station of the Cross is read, soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani sang the traditional Latin hymns and chants accompanying such a walk. Then, with a strength and depth rarely experienced by the instrument, harpist Parker Ramsay brings composer Nico Muhly’s mighty score to life. Indeed, each meditation is taken to the next level of intensity by the harp as the emotions and power of Jesus’s final walk down the streets of Jerusalem and to Golgotha is reimagined. Once again, the Center for the Art of Performance UCLA (CAP UCLA) delivers a remarkable cultural offering at its exciting new venue in Westwood.

The performance was multifaceted, like a true multimedia artistic offering brought to life. For example, Mia Barron’s movement around the theatre consecrated the space into something holy and tragic. Moreover, Jennifer Ellis Kampani’s powerhouse singing provided diverse emotions, from utter inspiration to bitter loss. Offering hymns in traditional Latin and English, the songs kept the meditations grounded in tradition until the pain of the moment demanded communication in English.

A Collage Of The 14 Stations Of The Cross From Kolkata, A Portuguese Church

Without question, the highlight of each meditation is the surprising harp. Parker Ramsay plays passionately and precisely, revealing Nico Muhly’s score’s emotional realities and brutal truth. When the crowd is calling for Jesus to be sentenced to crucifixion, the Harp sounds like the building rage of an angry mob. When Jesus struggles with the weight of the cross in the streets of Jerusalem, there is the hustle and bustle to Ramsay’s playing that gives a sense of a crowded street. When Jesus meets his mother, the music becomes sensitive and mournful as her love and helplessness are expressed. When Jesus is being nailed to the cross on the mount of Golgotha, brutality mixes with an undeniable sorrow.

From the first station to the last, the performance was riveting. At times, even knowing the outcome, the performers’ presence and passion offered a feeling of anticipation. For a moment, we hoped the outcome would change, even if Jesus had been crucified over two thousand years ago. The triumph of the evening was bringing multimedia to life in a way that also invigorated the 13 Stations of the Cross, providing a depth of meaning that resonated for days after.