The publicly and critically acclaimed Forty-Part Motet is now back on display at the National Gallery of Canada. This brilliant sound sculpture by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff is a reworking of Spem in Alium, a piece by 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis.
Forty separately-recorded choir voices are played back through 40 speakers positioned around the Rideau Chapel in the Canadian and Indigenous Galleries. The effect of the work on visitors is deeply moving.
Most people experience this piece now in their living rooms in front of only two speakers. Even in a live concert the audience is separated from the individual voices. Only the performers are able to hear the person standing next to them singing a different harmony. I wanted to be able to climb inside the music.