A reader writes:
I saw you mentioned New York Polyphony in a recent post and I thought you might be interested in this.
I saw them live last year, and they were stellar! Very sensitive, articulate interpretations and a joy to hear. During the concert, they mentioned a commission they had coming up that piqued my interest: Missa Charles Darwin.
Here’s a link to the Ted Talk that they and the composer, Gregory Brown, participated in. It’s about 20 minutes in length:
It gets a little music-nerdy, but to me it was a fairly amusing example of “secularist takes something with sacred basis and attempts to make it ‘better’ without understanding why it was good in the first place.” I have no idea what Mr. Brown’s personal beliefs are and he doesn’t really go into it, but I certainly found his selection of texts, especially for the “Introit,” telling. He uses the word “evocative” to describe his selections which, in many forays into the modern art world, is a word I have found to mean, “I’m not completely sure I know what I want this to mean, but I’m pretty sure it might piss people off.” Not to mention that many of the things the composer was seeking – evolution, structure, sequencing – already *exists* in the structure of music in general, and has for centuries of western music. Interesting how post-modernism seems so eager to deconstruct and do away with old ways and seek new and better only to find themselves back with the same ideals they threw out, whether they know it or not.
That’s not to say I find this particularly infuriating or insulting….just typical of modern art in a shake-my-head-and-laugh sort of way. And, as with a lot of art in this vein, curiously lacking in beauty.
Need a palate-cleanser? Here’s one of my favorites of the modern choral rep. Arvo Part gets it:
The incorrigible human drive to worship tends to take almost anything–especially anything pertaining to fundamentals of existence like reproduction–and sacralize it. Modern secularist and atheists think they have evolved past this–thereby leaving them completely open to a resurgent paganism just as somebody with no antibodies is not thereby freed from ancient biological threats but is, instead, more in danger than ever. When you stop believing in God and Satan, they don’t thereby vanish. Darwinism has long since left the realm of the sciences and been turned into a variety of pagan cults. We are made to worship. The question, therefore, is never whether we will worship but only what.
Nor does it surprise me that in trying to come up with an aesthetic worshippers should invariably return to Christian forms. this is another example of what the insightful Jeffrey Overstreet calls the Inescapability of the Gospel.
All good art sooner or later reflects the gospel because the Blessed Trinity is the author of reality and all reality therefore bears His stamp.