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Meditations on the Nativity;
       Prayers for Christmastide

Join Stella O'Neill and Olivia Wiering in Minneapolis as they share their work, Meditations on the Nativity! Experience the art inspired by, and the music from, Olivier Messaien's Le Nativite Du Seigneur.


  • January 20th, 2024

  • Doors open at 6:30 PM followed with a lecture at 7:00 PM

  • The event will be held at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 E. 31st St. Minneapolis MN, 55406

  • Gallery will remain on display from January 20th to February 13th

  • Bring a device and headphones or earbuds for a full immersive experience!


Icons have always held an important position in worship depicting the beauty and reality of scenes from Christ's life. Meditations, a fusion of music and art, depicts the characters and significance of Christ's birth. Messiaen's La Nativité, performed by Stella O'Neill, consists of nine musical meditations on aspects of the nativity scene. The art work, created by Olivia Wiering, is inspired by Messiaen's self-described synesthesia in patterns and colors. Meditations, a collection of creative prayers, is meant to provide a window into Messiaen's synesthetic experience and an opening into the heart of prayer and meditation on the importance of the Nativity birth.



Born on December 10, 1908 in Avignon, France, Olivier Messiaen attended the Paris Conservatoire in 1919 and by the 1930s had already distinguished himself with multiple first prizes in organ, improvisation, and composition. At the young age of twenty-two Messiaen became the organist at La Sainte Trinité in Paris, where Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s instrument played an important influence in his organ registration choices. La Nativité du Seigneur, composed in 1935, marked the beginning of Messiaen’s second composition period where his modal harmonic language was solidified as well as his rhythmic language. The modal language, which this project concerns, is especially important, given that Messiaen provided an outline and introduction to the use thereof in his preface with the score. 

The knowledge that Messiaen experienced synesthesia is new to some but not to most who are familiar with his writing and musical inspiration. Notable elements of Messiaen’s condition include that the colors associated with his harmony remained unchanged throughout his life, the condition shaped his musical output both consciously and subconsciously, and color remained the primary aspect on how he perceives and assesses music. Messiaen became more and more vocal about his condition and its effect on his music throughout his life. Although his earlier musical works do not discuss color, and his Technique de mon langage musical (1944) only mentions color briefly as a side-note, his later works become more expressly specific about the colors that shaped or inspired Messiaen’s output.  Other works continue to present composer notes and prefaces on color influence until finally culminating in his seventh volume of Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d’ornithologie: (1949-1992), which, according to Yvonne Loriod, could have been written as early as 1970-75. In this final volume, not yet translated from French, Messiaen provided painstaking detail to the colors he associated with sound collections. Not only does each mode have a color collection associated with the pitch collection, but each unique transposition has specific color collections as well.


Olivier Messiaen organized pitches in unique collections, which he called modes, giving his harmony a very personal character. Messiaen provided a detailed description of the visions he associated with each mode. Using these patterns and colors to represent Messiaen's synesthesia, Olivia melds the natural subject matter of each movement's title from La Nativité  and the accompanying scripture with her visual depictions that Messiaen outlines.


Stella O'Neill

Stella O'Neill, an organist and pianist in the Cincinnati area, earned her Bachelor's of Music in piano performance at the University of Minnesota with Dr. Paul Shaw. Stella continued on to pursue a Master of Music at the University of Florida, with Dr. Laura Ellis in organ performance, where she also began work in harpsichord accompanying and continuo playing. She earned her doctoral degree in organ performance at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and currently serves as choir accompanist for Mike Dailey at Our Lord Christ the King in Cincinnati, OH. She is secretary of the local Cincinnati AGO chapter and member of the Angelico Project.


Olivia Wiering

Working in Minneapolis MN, Olivia Wiering produces personal and original designs that render genuine and lovely areas of life into art for the home. Her body of work encompasses custom art, cards, as well as illustrations for the young adult novel Aoife's Bible, written by Blaine Turner. Loving classic works from Michelangelo to Garth Williams, and with a multi-medium portfolio ranging from historical themes to the every day scene, Olivia has a passion to create art that tells true stories, and reflects timeless values. She is excited and honored to work with Stella O'Neill on Meditations on the Nativity for the Christmas season.


Interested in donating to this project?   Any funding toward Meditations on the Nativity is greatly appreciated!

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