“Howlin’ Ukuleles, Batman!”


This VOX Ukulele commercial is a ton of fun — partially because of the music, partially because of the performer, and partially because “UKULELES!” May it brighten your Tuesday as much as it has brightened mine.The fellow doing the pickin’ is Jack Mauro – the same guy who wrote and performs the song. And he’s got [Read More...]

No Commentary Necessary — Bach-Rostropovich Edition


On days like this, when my jangled soul needs soothing, I often find myself turning to Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites, as interpreted by the incomparable Mstislav Rostropovich. I don’t quite know why the sound of the cello is so calming to me — and calming it is, even when Rostropovich is performing at his technically-masterful-but-breakneck pace, e.g. [Read More...]

Sound the Trumpet!


I’ve been racking my brain for the past few days in an attempt to come up with a topic more “in my wheelhouse” than Alison Balsom’s “Sound the Trumpet” album, but to no avail. Let us count the ways that I have been unsuccessful (though not disappointed) in my attempts: 1. I’m in a celebratory mood, [Read More...]

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, According to John (and Bach)


Each year, as part of my Good Friday devotions, I try to listen (as distraction-free as possible) to a musical work suited — both emotionally and liturgically — to the commemoration of Christ’s passion and death. Past listening sessions have ranged from Alfeyev’s Passion of St. Matthew and Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light to Schutz’s Passions (Matthew, Luke, [Read More...]

The Calm Before The Storm


The first few days of Holy Week always feel so strange to me. The eager throngs and joyful Hosannas of Palm Sunday are behind us; the angry shouts, the betrayals, the torches of Holy Thursday, before. At this moment, though — waiting in this liturgical lull; this eye of the Lenten storm — all is [Read More...]

Musical Meditation for Passion Sunday


As Holy Week begins, here is Anton Bruckner’s setting of “Christus Factus Est,” the text that serves as the Gradual for today’s feast. Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis. Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen. Translation: Christ became obedient for [Read More...]

Spending My Thursday Afternoon with Thomas A. Arne


This afternoon’s office insanity was set to the musical ramblings of Baroque master Thomas Arne, highlighted by Trevor Pinnock’s performance of this Presto movement from his Keyboard Sonata #6.”But who,” you ask, “is Thomas Arne?” “Who’s Thomas Arne?” I respond, shocked. “Thomas Augustine Arne? ‘Rule, Britannia!’ and ‘A-Hunting We Will Go?’ How could you possibly not know about [Read More...]

Musical Meditation for the Feast of St. Patrick


I’ve got to admit that my life haven’t felt particularly Lenten of late. The anticipation, excitement, and joyful celebration of Papam Week 2013 has dominated the last few days, and I’ve been struggling to return to a more “liturgically-appropriate” frame of mind ever since. Ironically, today’s feast — traditionally a time of great/excessive celebration — [Read More...]

No Commentary Necessary — “Habemus Papam” Edition


Yes, I know it’s Lent. But come on, people. We have a pope! Bonus Celebratory Music: Palestrina’s “Tu es Petrus” — always beautiful, but particularly appropriate today. Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram ædificabo ecclesiam meam et portæ inferi non prævalebunt adversus eam. Et tibi dabo claves regni cælorum. [Read more...]

Today’s Conclave Soundtrack: England’s Robert Johnson II


This afternoon, I’m calming my nerves (and ignoring the enormous Catholic elephant in the room) with a bit of Robert Johnson’s lute music, courtesy of my dad. It’s entirely possible that I’ve heard Johnson in the past, but I don’t think I’ve heard of him until I started to investigate this particular clip. The occasionally-reliable [Read More...]