Dave Brubeck’s long pilgrimage

Dave Brubeck had a problem and, as a short concert intermission turned into a long and mysterious delay, the jazz master sheepishly came back on stage to make a confession.It seemed that his son Chris had locked his electric bass in a dressing room and the Baylor University stage crew couldn't find the right key. Without that bass, the Two Generations of Brubeck ensemble -- pianist Brubeck backed by sons Chris, Dan on drums and Darius on electric keyboards -- was in trouble."I really don't … [Read more...]

Hallelujah, saith the masses

As millions of YouTube viewers know, the "Hallelujah Chorus" is even hotter than usual this year.The wave started with a flash-mob performance by the Opera Company of Philadelphia and hundreds of local choristers. Dressed as shoppers, they sang the best-known anthem from George F. Handel's "Messiah" oratorio at noon in the downtown Philadelphia Macy's, which was already decked out for the holidays on Oct. 30th.Then came the Nov. 13th performance that sent this viral-video trend into … [Read more...]

John Lennon, ‘spiritual,’ not ‘religious’

Few images of John Lennon are as iconic as that of the ex-Beatle playing a white piano in a white room, gazing into the camera lens while singing "Imagine.""Imagine there's no heaven. It's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today," said Lennon, in the anthem that for many defined his life. "Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too."Critics of the rock martyr have quoted these words … [Read more...]

Synagogue for Jewish seekers

For centuries, Jews have watched their rabbis show reverence to God during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur rites by doing a prostration at the front of the synagogue.This symbolic act takes place during the "Aleinu" prayer that reminds worshipers of their duty to "bend our knees, and bow down, and give thanks, before the Ruler, the Ruler of Rulers, the Holy One, Blessed is God."Rabbi Shira Stutman isn't sure how many people will accept her invitation to exit the pews and perform this … [Read more...]

The soul in Dave Brubeck’s jazz

Any jazz fan who has been paying attention at all during the past half century will recognize the quirky 5/4 riff that means the Dave Brubeck Quartet is swinging into its classic "Take Five."But there's another tune the pianist keeps playing that is completely different. "Forty Days" opens with the haunting, chant-like lines that define the most famous piece in his first sacred oratorio, "The Light in the Wilderness.""Forty days alone in the desert, days and nights of constant prayer, … [Read more...]

Quiet Lutheran worship wars

If members of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have heard it once, they've heard their national leaders repeat this mantra a thousand times: "This is not your grandfather's church."That's certainly what musician Phillip Magness experienced when he took a sabbatical at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Ill., and began a research tour after the 2006 release of the Lutheran Service Book. Since he led the committee charged with promoting the new hymnal, Magness wanted to see what was … [Read more...]

Life after CCM, the remix

The first time Jay Swartzendruber held a compact disc, he wondered if music fans would miss the artwork, readable lyrics and other goodies that came inside old-fashioned album covers.Years later, industry insiders started talking about selling music online and it was deja vu all over again. The voice in his head said, "Fans will forgo CD art and packaging altogether? You seriously believe that?"Swartzendruber also likes reading magazines he can hold in his hands, especially when it's the one … [Read more...]

Catholic choirs, alive or dead?

Lucy E. Carroll has never actually attended a Catholic Mass in which a cantor belted out, "He'll be coming 'round the altar when he comes! He'll be coming 'round the altar when he comes!" At least, that hasn't happened yet."I know that some people have used Stephen Foster music in a Mass," said the musical director at the Carmelite monastery in Philadelphia. "I've heard about people using the melody from the waltz scene in 'Beauty and the Beast' for the 'Gloria.' And I've heard more than one … [Read more...]


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