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Letting music lead us out of a bleak place

Letting music lead us out of a bleak place

On Sunday, April 21, after a very bleak week of horrific news from Boston to Texas to China to Baghdad, the London–based Legatum Institute presented a choral concert, composed by Sir John Tavener, at the Washington National Cathedral. The power of music to lift the soul was once again demonstrated. US News reports that Tavener attended the concert much to the delight of the audience. Some comments:

Jeffrey Gedmin, an American who is the institute’s chief executive officer, said Legatum’s multi–disciplinary approach does not treat arts and culture as a kind of a dessert nor as a diversion from the social sciences. Rather, he said, they are part of any society’s sum and can make the sum larger than its parts in a ways that cannot always be measured in an index. Gedmin connected dots between his past and present by reaching out to his Vienna, Va. high school music teacher, the maestro Robert Shafer, who deftly conducted the concert.

In the end, Gedmin had orchestrated a rare convergence that clearly crossed (or blurred) Anglo–American lines. It was practically a public service after a bleak week. More than a thousand people swelled in a crescendo of emotion to the choir’s rousing renditions of Tavener’s works and a handful of classics, including “Jerusalem.” But the anthem “God Save the Queen” brought the house down.

Read it all here.


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Eric Bonetti

I plan to write more about it soon, but I am reminded as well of the recent wonderful performance by The Tallis Scholars at the Falls Church Episcopal. The parish, which has been through so much over the past several years as a result of the effort of some former parishioners to seize the property on behalf of ACNA, hosted a crowd of about 600. The music truly was a small sliver of paradise that evening, and it was wonderful to see the diversity of the crowd in the room–including one same-gender couple, several rows ahead of me, who sat with their arms around each other throughout the performance. (This would have been unthinkable in the days the parish was dominated by “orthodox” Episcopalians).

Anyway, a wonderful evening, and one that I hope will prove to be healing over time.

Eric Bonetti

Bill Ghrist

Saturday night the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra opened its week-long Music for the Spirit Festival with a concert called “Singing City.” Participants included a choir of approximately 2000 singers from nearly sixty church, school, and community choirs, the Children’s Festival Chorus, and spiritual leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist faith communities. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former Roman Catholic bishop of Pittsburgh, gave an address. You can read more about the evening here. The festival culminates in performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Orchestra’s subscription concerts this coming weekend.

Clint Davis

The University of Oklahoma did Beethoven’s Ninth last weekend, couldn’t have been better timing. Who knew, back when it was scheduled, that last week of all weeks we would need to hear it?

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