February 8, 2023

Waiting for the Barbarians at St. Thomas Church

My dear clandestine connoisseurs of classical music, have we got an announcement for you…

Death of Classical and The Alexander S. Onassis Benefit Foundation are partnering with Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue to present Waiting for the Barbarians, a sprawling, one-night-only exploration of the timeless poetry of C.P. Cavafy.

Set amidst the towering Gothic arches of Saint Thomas, the program features world premiere performances of new works and arrangements by Rufus Wainwright, Laurie Anderson, Helga Davis & Petros Klampanis, Paola Prestini, Nico Muhly, Missy Mazzoli, and Dimitris Papadimitriou. New York orchestral collective The Knights and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus will perform throughout, accompanying Wainwright, Anderson, Davis & Klampanis, and soprano Eleni Calenos.You can purchase standard and premium tickets HERE, and learn more about the program below.

To me, all of the poetry of C.P. Cavafy contains some element of loss - a sense of what we must give up in order to exist in the world. That loss can be personal, such as when we offer a part of ourselves to someone else in the vulnerability of love and intimacy, or leave a piece of our history in the places where we make our home. It can also be political, when we subjugate ourselves to society and the common good, or sacrifice our individuality to the notion of ‘us vs. them’ (most poignantly in the titular poem Waiting for the Barbarians, in which an entire city has come to define itself solely in relation to its enemies). But what makes Cavafy’s poetry so profound is the fact that it doesn’t simply wallow in the negative space of what’s been taken away, but rather it also reminds us of all that we receive in that act of giving… the memories, the history, and the transcendent awareness that a shared experience of life can be greater than the sum of its parts.

We are honored to share the staggering vision of these extraordinary artists, as they guide us through a kaleidoscopic exploration of what it means to lose ourselves, and what we discover in the process.

See you there,