This coming Sunday also features a service of Choral Evensong in the sanctuary at 4:00 p.m.. Since we are in the Lenten season, nearly all of the music for this service will be plainsong chant. This kind of music creates a very special aura of holiness. While this style of music is stripped down to the essential elements, there is an interesting thing that happens – one can find that, due to its simplicity, this music gives us room to focus our thoughts inwardly. Many people find a sense of peaceful meditation in chant, and this has persisted throughout the ages. You may be familiar with some of the popular chant recordings that have come out in the past few decades, and the interesting thing about this is that, normally, the singers are simply monks or nuns (religious) who are singing the same way they have for centuries – they aren’t performing. I think that this resurgence of chant speaks to our need for stillness and meditation in our busy lives. Come experience this peace during our Evensong service this Sunday.
Next Wednesday (at 6:00 p.m.) features the next program in our Lenten music series, French Musical Mysticism of the 20th Century. This recital will expose listeners to a sound-world with which they may not be familiar. The organ music to come out of France during the 20th century was highly mystical, due in part if not entirely to the strong Catholic influence on the composers. Sometimes, it is hard to appreciate this music – it certainly is if you are expecting to go out humming a tune! This music, like chant, is more about creating a sound-world for meditation. Like surrealist paintings, a lot of 20th century French organ music is about changing your perceptions of certain ideas and emotions. During my recital, I will endeavor to help listeners connect with this art form that has been a huge influence on my development as an artist. When discussing this particular style of composing, I always invite people to throw away words like “atonal,” or “dissonant,” and try replacing them with “expansion,” and “colorful.” At its heart, this music is perhaps some of the most essentially spiritual music ever written.
So, you have three opportunities to deepen your Lenten experience this week at the cathedral. I hope to see you at these events, and remember to invite a friend or two!