Image of Harbison's <i>Flight Into Egypt</i> Harbison's Flight Into Egypt
The Flight Into Egypt, Sacred Ricercar

“Original, varied, and absorbing” is how a critic at Fanfare magazine described the work of MIT Professor John Harbison. Recognized as one of the world’s leading composers, Harbison has an immense repertoire and has received countless awards, including the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” award. In 1987, Harbison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Flight Into Egypt, Sacred Ricercar, work for chorus and orchestra based on the biblical text Matthew 3:13-23. The Cantata Singers commissioned the piece by their former music director, who describes his inspiration for the work this way:

“I began The Flight on an impulse stemming from a conversation with Craig Smith and Rose Mary Harbison about Christmas texts. Craig Smith mentioned the Christmas season counseling experience of Reverend Al Kershaw at Emmanuel Church, Boston, a time when need, isolation, and anxiety increase. We agreed that the darker side of Christmas needs representation, especially in a time of increasing distance between the privileged and the less fortunate.”

The Flight Into Egypt, Sacred Ricercar, Sound Recording
John Harbison

photo: MIT Museum Collections

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