Seeking transcendence near Lincoln Center? The area is rich in holy places for Roman Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Protestants and Muslims. Or perhaps you could skip them and worship at the altar of art music.
Lincoln Center on Wednesday announced plans for a fall festival devoted to spiritual expression and the illumination of “our larger interior universe.”
Called the White Light Festival, it will run next season from Oct. 28 to Nov. 18 and feature an eclectic and at times esoteric lineup of works, including Brahms’s “German Requiem,” a dance piece performed by 17 monks from China, verse and melodies from 16th-century Croatia, choral music by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt and a mix of folk and classical music from northern India.
Lincoln Center has long had summer festivals, but until now its programming during the regular season, under the rubric Great Performers, has generally been a series of unrelated concerts, except for the occasional thematic group, like evenings devoted to one composer. The concerts are scheduled mainly for Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall when their steady tenants, the New York Philharmonic and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, are off.
The festival bears the imprint of Jane S. Moss, Lincoln Center’s vice president for programming. Ms. Moss, in an unusual baring of the programmer’s soul, made no bones about the personal nature of next season’s event, the first in a series to be mounted annually, although with different themes.
Casting the festival as an act of spirituality, Ms. Moss said in an interview, grew out of a sense that modern urban life was increasingly being dominated by digital multitasking. Taking up serious yoga several years ago, she said, and encountering seekers of a higher purpose in her classes drove home the idea.
“We actually have been entering what I consider an era of distraction,” she said. “People are searching for greater meaning that all the text messages in the world can’t provide.” At a concert, she added, “you’re outside the concerns of your own ego, and there’s some larger universe inside yourself where you enter.”
“I actually feel an enormous responsibility in my job and, needless to say, in my life to learn how to wear my heart on my sleeve every day,” she said.
Other higher powers also led to the festival’s creation: the gods of marketing.
Festivals, Ms. Moss said, create a greater impact on the concertgoing public during the crowded fall concert season in New York. “It is a way to introduce new energy into the season,” she added. A festival context also allows for the programming of more obscure works, which might otherwise “sink without a trace,” she said.