time: 18:03 / 34 words
In recent years, Sir John Tavener’s music has been influenced not merely by Orthodox Christianity, but also by the Traditionalism of René Guénon (Towards Silence) and Frithjof Schuon (Schuon Hymnen).
As a life-long listener of various kinds of folk and classical traditions- I find Mr. Tavener’s music simply soporific.
If you want some spiritual elevation – just go to any ethnic church (Greek, Russian, Bulgarian, etc.) and get ready to experience ancient modes and scales as they were passed for centuries. Any Turkish. Russian or Central Asian folk song will have a stronger emotional charge.
Well, tastes differ. Tavener aims at a feeling of timelessness in his music, and some of it is quite static. Some of it, though, is truly sublime. Here are some of my favorite pieces:
1. Large scale choral music: Tavener: Akathist of Thanksgiving
2. Music for string quartet and handbells: Tavener: The Last Sleep of the Virgin, The Hidden Treasure
3. Song for Athene and other sacred choral music, including Blake settings: John Tavener: Innocence
4. Music for cello and orchestra: The Protecting Veil / Wake Up … And Die
Some YouTube excerpts:
The Protecting Veil: http://youtu.be/BkgN9OjMXgw
The Last Sleep of the Virgin: http://youtu.be/M-RyBCFc76k
Song for Athene: http://youtu.be/2ma_Ouv74_8
You know this synchronicity has just got to stop sometime. Man and his Becoming came yesterday and now I find out there is musical accompaniment.
The other face of WN-maligned Christianity.
I lived for five years in North Carolina, and while there, I enjoyed several television series not available in New England. One was organist Diane Bish’s Joy of Music, which featured churches, organs, and solo musicians in village settings throughout Europe.
Another was the BBC’s Songs of Praise, which began in 1961 and is still running. The narrator at that time was Sir Harry Secombe; he also sang. The segments visited different regions in England and included interesting scenery, villagers, anecdotes, and history. They’re about much more than just singing..
Here is a segment with a different narrator, filmed in the town of Grantham in 1980. I think that each person singing is feeling deeply and personally connected to God. Don’t miss the beautiful children in the second half.
Checking out newer segments on the Internet, I see the series is changing, like everything else, It’s even being challenged to be more diversified – which means, of course, less Christian.
As I was leaving NC, a formal– legal, I think –action was being waged by an unidentified group against classical WCPE’s Sunday morning programming on grounds that it was too Christian. That attack failed.
Thank you for this wonderful selection. I’ve loved the music of John Tavener, John Rutter and Morten Lauridsen for a long time; hearing John Tavener express his thoughts about his religious journey and his work is an added bonus. I, too, have always felt the sacredness in song and its direct connection with God; I believe it to be the sound most welcomed and best loved by God.
(Plainsong) Spiritus Sanctus – Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1171)
(Gregorian Chant) Hymnus VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS, SCHOLA GREGORIANA