Chesnokov’s “Let My Prayer Arise!”

Da ispravitsya molitva moya, yako kadilo pred Toboyu: vozdeyanie ruku moeyu, zhertva vechernyaya. Gospodi, vozzvakh k Tebe, uslïshi mya: vonmi glasu moleniya moyego, vnegda vozzvati mi k Tebe. Polozhi, Gospodi, khranenie ustom moim: i dver ograzhdeniya o ustnakh moikh. Ne ukloni serdtse moe v slovesa lukavstviya: nepshchevati vinï o gresekh. TRANSLATION: Let my prayer arise in thy sight as incense; and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Lord, I call upon thee, … [Read More...]


Musical Mediation for Holy Week

It's time once again to embark on one of my longest-standing personal spiritual traditions: Finding some time during Holy Week to listen to J.S. Bach's towering masterpiece, the Matthäus Passion. It grows progressively more difficult each year, because "some time" actually means 3+ hours. And Lent seems to fly by more rapidly each year. And there are shocking number of kids around my house. But it's worth it, especially if you have a chance to sit down with the libretto and read along while … [Read More...]


Summa Shorts: “Adagio”

From Russian animator Garri Bardin, an unsettling and disconcertingly-appropriate film for my Holy Week preparations: The origami-style animation is extraordinarily emotive -- so much told in the slight turning of those faceless heads. And while the short's genesis is, apparently, a brief-and-mostly-political bit from Maxim Gorky, I could not escape the Christological overtones. Nor, sadly, is it easy to escape the ways in which it is all too accurate, both in terms of how easily we are … [Read More...]


Streaming Suggestion: “The Conversation”

Monday marked the 40th Anniversary of what I have long considered Francis Ford Coppola's best film ("to date," Joseph says hopefully). A film which I now happily share with y'all: The Conversation is currently available from NETFLIX INSTANT. I realize that's a bit of a controversial claim, given that the legendary Godfathers feature prominently in his filmography. But I can't help myself. It's far-and-away my favorite. And has been for years, since long before that opinion was cool. … [Read More...]


Gustave Doré and “The Raven”

Life's a bit breakneck at the moment, but I'm pulling my head up out of the water just high enough to mention this: Gustave Doré, whose spectacular illustrations for Don Quixote would be the absolute pinnacle of an amazing artistic career if he hadn't ALSO DONE DANTE, produced 26 engravings for Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." They are, predictably, fantastic. But they're also a bit different from some of his other works, as highlighted by OpenCulture's post:  Like all of his … [Read More...]


“With Gusto and Lust” — Johnny Cash on Suffering, Success, The Classics, and The Gospel

Every time I begin to despair of the InterWebs and their ability to offer anything of legitimate value, they come along with something like this: Here, via the Blank on Blank folks, is an animated interview with the legendary Man in Black, Johnny Cash himself, from some time in 2006. Really, really great stuff. A man of tremendous talent, a man who's been chastened and humbled time-and-again -- often as a result of his own actions -- and has learned from that chastisement. A man who … [Read More...]

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Looking For a Marimba Concerto? I’ve Got You Covered.

The Previously-Discussed Welsh composer Karl Jenkins has written a concerto based on the legendary La Folia. For the marimba. Your argument is invalid. I love contemporary composers who have a knowledge of and an appreciation for the past. Plus, anyone who names their album of strange concerti "Quirk" is worthy of more attention, in my book. Especially when he says he was drawn to jazz because it was tonal, and he disliked the atonal stuff he was studying. (Plus, I mentioned he … [Read More...]


Summa Shorts: “The Cave: An Adaptation of Plato’s Allegory in Clay”

I realize that today's short this is a bit more philosophical than my usual fare, but not to worry. I don't really understand Plato's ubiquitous Cave allegory -- whether I'm dealing with it in written or in animated form. So we're good. Claymation has always been a bit tricky for me, honestly. I love the amount of patience on display, and the painstaking creative process encourages a tremendous attention to detail. But the roughness around the edges is sometime distracting to me; can't … [Read More...]


Streaming Suggestion: “Mud”

One of my favorite films from last year is now available on both NETFLIX INSTANT and AMAZON PRIME. Mud, from Jeff Nichols. It's a hard film for me to describe, really. Somehow, it retains a distinctive personality despite an abundance of obvious predecessors and influences. Imagine Huck Finn meets Flannery O'Connor, with a dash of Faulkner, a pinch of True Grit, a bit of Noah  -- No, not THAT Noah! -- and a smidge of Robinson Crusoe. It's a strange and mysterious work, with … [Read More...]


Finding Solace through Music (and Violin Building)

Here's an inspiring story from the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal. Leo Beaule lost his wife of 55 years to Parkinson's disease in 2006.  Unsurprisingly, the transition to a life without her was a tough one. He  struggled with depression and loneliness, saying that "I didn't know what to do with myself. ...I didn't go anywhere; I didn't do anything." But then he found an unusual way to stay busy: Beaule had always found comfort in nature. He and his family frequently spent time at their camp … [Read More...]