Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Rideau Convent Chapel

The Rideau Convent Chapel is a centrepiece of the National Gallery of Canada. The chapel was built in 1887-88 as part of the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, which stood on Rideau Street. That convent was demolished in the 1970s, but the chapel was saved by the efforts of heritage groups and various government levels, and relocated here. The Chapel is, as noted on the panel leading inside, "the only example of its kind in North America from this period to include a Tudor style fan vaulted ceiling", and as such was well worth saving. It is a beautiful and peaceful space, and periodically when I visit, such as was the case this time, it features an audio art installation. Janet Cardiff devised The Forty Part Motet, a reworking of a sixteenth century work by the English composer Thomas Tellis. Forty singers, recorded individually, are played back through the speakers arranged through the room. If you stand by one, the emphasis you hear is that single singer, which applies if you move forward to another one. If you stand in the midst of the room, the voices as a whole are as one. If you wait after it's over, for a few minutes you'll hear the sounds of people talking on the speakers, the collective sound of which is quite different from the singing. The effect is a sculpture of pure sound, and it is a joy to hear, particularly in such a splendid setting. You'll have to take my word for it- photography is allowed, but not video. 

36 comments:

  1. Your photos highlight the ceiling's magic.

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  2. The fan vaulting is exquisite.

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  3. That ceiling is absolutely stunning. So glad it was saved.

    Janis
    GDP

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  4. ...thankfully it was saved!

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  5. i remember as a kid ... staring at everything but where i was meant to look ... this one i would so be staring at the ceiling. so amazing. what a beauty. ( ;

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  6. @Marie: it's quite a chapel!

    @Maywyn: thank you!

    @Nancy: it certainly is.

    @Rosemary: it is indeed.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Janis: I am too.

    @Tom: yes, indeed.

    @Beth: it was well worth saving.

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  7. I love this: "The effect is a sculpture of pure sound". Churches are having to get creative in finding money, and getting people into churches.

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  8. I like your description "sculpture of sound". That must be very wonderful to listen to in such beautiful surrounds.

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  9. Spectacular! Especially the ceiling William, that is incroyable!

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  10. It sounds like you'd have to know what is going on or be terribly confused.

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  11. It's an impressive space in many ways. The ceiling, of course, takes first place, but I like the windows and the sculptures, the floors and the altar. It would be a nice place to spend some time in meditation. Now, if you could figure out how we could hear the music... :)

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  12. Divine views!

    Happy Week ahead to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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  13. @Jennifer: it's quite something to listen to while you're inside.

    @Sharon: it really is.

    @Grace: it's a grand space.

    @Red: it does help to read the panels before stepping inside!

    @Lowell: I suspect that even if I videoed the space, the effect of the music just wouldn't come across in the video. You really do have to be inside while the music is playing to get how it feels.

    @Carol: definitely!

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  14. It is very beautiful. I do believe I visited it once... many years ago. Believe it or not I only visited Ottawa once! And it is only a 4+ h drive from here.

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  15. I love the ceiling. So beautiful!

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  16. You always share very interesting places. Your header is fantastic also. Thanks William!

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  17. WOW on that ceiling detail and great that this chapel was saved from demolition.

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  18. Very impressive ceiling, it's gorgeous.

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  19. @Catarina: it's well worth visiting.

    @Tamago: it certainly is.

    @Denise: you're welcome.

    @Beatrice: it's quite a work of art in and of itself.

    @Bill: it definitely is.

    @RedPat: so do I.

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  20. I'm also impressed by that ceiling. It's unique!

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  21. It is just so beautiful William, lovely pictures.

    All the best Jan

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing the impressive photos and history. Thanks for your kind compliment on my mom. You are right, we never stop missing them. Have a good evening.

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  23. That ceiling takes one's breath away. A beautiful place. Thank goodness they had the sense to preserve it.

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  24. A friend of mine experienced The Forty Part Motet and it was very deeply moving. I envy your hearing it. And that ceiling is extraordinary.

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  25. Very nice, somewhere you could spend time at peace

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  26. Love the ceiling and the solemn atmosphere.

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  27. I've experienced something like you described in an art museum. A gregorian chorus, each voice in a speaker around the room. Definetely, in a church it must be more thriling and the adding of people talking after is surely an interesting contrast. It was not clear to me if the people voices are recorded too or the sound of people present.

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  28. What a graceful chapel. This is quite exceptional. I think it might take my breath away.

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  29. I'm so far behind in blog commenting, it'll take me a month to catch up!

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  30. I like the sculptures very much.

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