Friday, September 17, 2010

Music for the Soul: A program for renchantment.

Today's selection is a CD of music chosen by Thomas Moore author of one of my favorite books Care of the Soul  and also another called
The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life which I highly recommend.

In the Re-Enchantment of Everyday life, Moore outlines three common themes that can lead to long-term happiness and joy.. He states that the first is "having a strong sense of place" in other words living in the place and space that you have a strong affinity with.  The second principle is "maintaining long term friendships", in essence friendships with a sense of history.  And finally, "Honoring your longings" those things that resonate in your soul and feel passion about.  Music is one of my longings.

In the Liner notes for the CD, Moore stated that he chose the music to appeal to what he calls "the lower shady place where the heart is profoundly affected."   He further states that he is "drawn to melancholy in music, to music that touches a particular place in the heart where the air is thick and the colors dark." 

Alma Redemptoris mater is sung by "angelic voices of children."  It is a chant that Moore describes as "a way of ennobling any emotion or passion it is meant to carry.  It has a timeless, restrained quality that stems from its subtle rhythms and gentle modal cadences." 

The next selection is Tu solus qui facis mirabilia written by Josquin Des Prez "known in his time as the Michelangelo of music, wrote motets and masses that always seem tied toe the deep elements of the heart."
Josquin des Prez was a friend of a philosophiser priest called Marsilio Ficino who taught, according to Moore, "that music has magical capacities, and, since it is conveyed in the same spirit that sustains the soul, it is powerful medicine for maladies of the heart."  Marsilio Ficino according to Moore, "practiced a gentle kind of music therapy, recommending a judicious use of music in accord with felt emotions and moods."  As a clinical practitioner I have used music and have created therapeutic exercises and presented on the use of music in psychotherapy.

The next piece is a beautiful and reflective piece called Old and Lost Rivers a piece written by Tobias Picker.

Tobias Picker wrote the piece about a "convergence of two bayous east of Houston, Texas, and he remarks that these waterways are sometimes dry and green with grass and sometimes filled with water." It is beautiful and evoking piece that transports me to a higher level.  There is spot in the piece that my heart just reaches into a soulful place that wants me to lift my hand up and touch God. 

Sergei Rachmaninoff is the composer that wrote the next piece Vespers-Ave Maria. 

Vespers are the evening prayers in the "Traditional Christian Divine Office" and are said near the end of the day and acknowledge the coming of the night.  The singing in the Russian Church uses as Moore puts it, a timbre that strikes those cords hi the heart that connects to the earth and complexities of life. 

The next piece written by Arvo Part a piece written  as a Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten. The Cantus was written as a memorial for Benjamin Britten
Britten was a Twentieth Century British composer whose music never appealed to me.  Britten is written about in a 2006 book called Britten's Children which outlines that Britten was sexually attracted to 13-year-old boys but never strayed over the bounds with them. 

Salve Regina is another piece written to honor the Virgin Mary.  It is written by Francis Poulenc a French Composer.  The words talk about the suffering that many Humans have.  I was talking yesterday to a woman who was having it appears was a miscarriage and she was having a difficult time.  It reminded me of the  first of the Buddha's four noble truths which is "There is Suffering Suffering is common to all."  Over time I have come to believe that and I believe if the world is about suffering that anything above suffering is truly a gift from God.  Even sufferings are a gift from God because they teach us so much.

Another piece by Part called Fratres.  Moore writes about the piece "Fratres means more than brothers, perhaps a deep sense of our commonality and interdependence."    About Part's music, he writes "I recognized a spirit in it that has deep echoes in my own past and in my approach to the arts, a spirit of the medieval and Renaissance period where mysteriously I seem to have a home, and the spirit of monasticism which has claimed me for most of my life.

Nuper Rosarum Flores a piece written by Guillaume Dufay for the consecration of the Florence Cathedral
Santa Maria Del Fiore
According to Wikipedia, Nuper Rosarum Flores or Recently Flowers of Roses/The Rose Blossoms Recently, is an isorhythmic motet composed by Guillaume Dufay for the 25 March 1436 consecration of the Florence cathedral, on the occasion of the completion of the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi—although technically, the dome itself was not finished until five months later, at which time a separate consecration was celebrated by Benozzo Federighi, the bishop of Fiesole, substituting for the newly appointed archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Vitelleschi (Wright 1994, 396 n2). The motet is striking for its synthesis of the older isorhythmic style and the new contrapuntal style that Dufay himself would explore further in the coming decades, as would successors such as Ockeghem and Josquin des Prez. The title of the piece stems from the name of the cathedral itself: Santa Maria del Fiore, or St. Mary of the Flower. The opening lines of Dufay's text refers to Pope Eugene IV's gift to the cathedral, and to the city of Florence, of a golden rose to decorate the high altar—a gift made the week before the dedication (Wright 1994, 399). Enough details already!

The Next piece of music to me is one of the most exquisite compositions and rates as my most favorite piece of classical music ever written.  It is Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.  The climax of this piece is so wonderfully inspiring and again leads you the celebration of the human spirit.   Barber is another composer I had not learned much about but he was the life partner of Gian Carlo Menotti who wrote the opera Ahmal and the Night Visitors that I remember seeing on television when I was a teenager.

Henryk Gorecki wrote the final selection and it is the Second Movement of his Symphony No. 3.  Of this piece Moore tells us "The composer tells us that this symphony is about lamentation, and indeed the entire piece is an extended weeping..

According to Wikipedia,  the Second Movement  contains a libretto formed from the prayer to the Virgin Mary inscribed by a young woman 18-year-old Helena Wanda Błażusiakówn on her cell wall in a Gestapo prison.  She was a highland woman incarcerated on 25 September, 1944. "The text  read "O Mamo nie płacz nie—Niebios Przeczysta Królowo Ty zawsze wspieraj mnie" (Oh Mamma do not cry—Immaculate Queen of Heaven support me always). The composer recalled, "I have to admit that I have always been irritated by grand words, by calls for revenge. Perhaps in the face of death I would shout out in this way. But the sentence I found is different, almost an apology or explanation for having got herself into such trouble; she is seeking comfort and support in simple, short but meaningful words". He later explained, "In prison, the whole wall was covered with inscriptions screaming out loud: 'I'm innocent', 'Murderers', 'Executioners', 'Free me', 'You have to save me'—it was all so loud, so banal. Adults were writing this, while here it is an eighteen-year-old girl, almost a child. And she is so different. She does not despair, does not cry, does not scream for revenge. She does not think about herself; whether she deserves her fate or not. Instead, she only thinks about her mother: because it is her mother who will experience true despair. This inscription was something extraordinary. And it really fascinated me"

I am really enjoying this process.  I know it seems like a lot of information but in my being committed to this blog and gaining information I learn so much and it adds to my appreciation for the music. 

I was telling somebody this morning that as a teenager I would just love putting on my headphones and putting on album and lying down on my bed and holding the album cover on my belly and reading the album liner notes or the lyrics as I listened to the music.  I fought buying CD's for a long time because I like the ritual of reading the notes and guess what you can hardly read the notes on CD's because it is just too small and you have this little piece of folded paper to unfold and refold when you have finished and good luck trying to get it to fit back in that little jewel case. 

I was telling the person.  That now there is a luxury listening to the music and having the Internet because you have such of volume of "liner notes" that you get from just doing a search on Google. I am in heaven.

Good day for now.

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