Photography Contest and Exhibition

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Promoting engagement between theology, music and the visual arts
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The "theme" of the contest is Olivier Messiaen's work for two pianos, Visions de l'AmenDuke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts invites students, faculty, staff and alumni of Duke Divinity School, and their immediate families, to submit digital photographs as an artistic response to the music of Olivier Messiaen’s spectacular work for two pianos, Visions de l’Amen.

All entries are welcome. The contest is not intended solely for accomplished photographers or long-standing Messiaen-lovers. All that is needed is a digital camera, a CD player or access to YouTube, and the willingness to listen to at least one movement of Visions de L'Amen.

Seven winning photographs, selected from categories corresponding to the music’s seven movements, will be professionally printed and mounted for exhibition in the Great Hall at King’s College, Cambridge next Easter. The exhibition will be held as part of a Maundy Thursday concert on April 5 that will feature a performance of the work by London-based concert pianist Cordelia Williams and Director of DITA, Jeremy Begbie. A later performance and permanent exhibition of the winning photographs is planned at Duke Divinity School.

The Great Hall, King's College CambridgeGrand Prize Trip to Cambridge

One Grand Prize winner will be awarded a round trip to the UK for Holy Week 2012 (to the value of $1900), including tickets to the main Easter at King’s concerts. Each of the seven Category Winners will receive gift tokens worth $100.

The “Theme” of the Contest

Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen comprises seven movements, from the “Amen of Creation” to the “Amen of the Consummation,” and a short piece of text drawing out the theological themes in each is available (see How to Enter, below). Entrants are invited to listen to a recording of the work and to offer a response to both text and music in the medium of photography. CD recordings are available in the Duke Divinity School Library on reserve under Dr. Jeremy Begbie, and a number of recordings of individual movements can be found on YouTube.

Messiaen 101 (pdf) offers a beginner's introduction to Messiaen and his masterpiece Visions de l'Amen, together with some thoughts to spark the photographic imagination.

How to Enter

All entries must be submitted by Thursday January 12, 2012. Full information, including technical requirements, is available in the submission guidelines, which can be downloaded below, together with the submission form and category texts:

Further questions may be directed to the Contest Coordinator Joelle Hathaway at

Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts and the Divinity School gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of The Duke-Semans Fine Arts Foundation and the generous philanthropy of David Crabtree whose support has made this project possible.

More about the Duke-Cambridge Collaboration

The Duke-Cambridge Collaboration began in Holy Week 2010, when a group of scholars from Duke met with a group from Cambridge at King’s College, Cambridge, to collaborate on a research project centering on artistic engagements with the Passion story. The Consultation ran alongside King’s College’s Easter Festival of Music and Services, and a Duke-led concert was incorporated into the week’s events. A similar collaboration will take place during Holy Week 2012, including the Maundy Thursday performance of Visions de l’Amen that will provide the context for the Illuminating Messiaen exhibition. Learn more: The Duke-Cambridge Collaboration.