The news today might be dominated by the London Olympics, the upcoming election, and the economy, but my attention has been pulled in another direction by several news stories I’ve come across recently which hint that…news flash…music and faith feed each other.
The music critic from The Philadelphia Inquirer, David Patrick Stearns, wrote in his July 26 article about two new operas with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a central character:
In my world, faith and doubt are twin states of being. One can’t truly exist without the other. Their progeny are courage and apprehension. What I like most about the 21st-century faith-based music I’ve encountered is how it embraces the idea that the divine is beyond comprehension, that’s it’s not a version of our world. And, if nothing else, the divine is a lot less cluttered. The artistic sea change that happened in Arvo Pärt’s music in the ’70s – paring down his music to essentials – also came with a devotion to sacred texts.
A piece by Arvo Pärt above (you need to be an online subscriber to The Daily Cup in order to open this link) and below, Stearns’ article in its entirety:
In the same article Stearns, incidentally, summed up Renaissance art in a way that I had not thought about before: religious paintings were extremely stylized, and sometimes made according to such strict precepts that there was an enforced uniformity of expression. Similarly, Renaissance polyphony was not about projecting any individual expression of faith; it was more of a glorious groupthink that actually created a firm standard of quality control. Interesting.
On the same day The New York Times included an article titled “A New Faith in Classical Music” about goings-on at Austria’s Salzburg Music Festival.
…Nor is spirituality a word you associate nowadays with the Salzburg Festival, a once-modest summer presentation of classical music and theater founded in 1920…but last weekend the festival embarked on a 10-day Spiritual Overture. And in doing so, the festival, which has become something of a bellwether, seems to have caught a wave of spirituality that is surging through the world of classical music.
Hmmm… I’m enjoying riding the wave.