My Lungs Swell Like a Ship’s Canvas

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Listen! Can you hear? The music … I can hear it everywhere … in the wind … in the air … in the light … it’s all around us … all you have to do is open yourself up … all you have to is listen!

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Have you seen August Rush (2007), this modern Oliver Twist fairy tale, where an orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift as a clue to finding his birth parents? Most critics have denounced it as “syrupy”, “sappy”,  or “melodramatic”, yet I love its music, especially the opening nature scene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bCRYdLmduY and the City Rhapsody scene that  takes place when August arrives to New York and “feels” the music in city life sounds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-Jf_SQaE-s   May we be blessed with such a savant-like ability to hear Music and discover Beauty, wherever, and follow them in our lives! Let us thus be deeply embedded in the Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints.

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“In the house of lovers, the music never stops, the walls are made of songs & the floor dances” (Rumi)

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“When I am silent, I fall into that place where everything is music”(Rumi)

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Music

By Charles Baudelaire

Music, like an ocean, often carries me away!
Through the ether far,
or under a canopy of mist, I set sail
for my pale star.
Breasting the waves, my lungs swollen
like a ship’s canvas,
night veils from me the long rollers,
I ride their backs:
I sense all a suffering vessel’s passions
vibrating within me:
while fair winds or the storm’s convulsions
on the immense deep
cradle me. Or else flat calm, vast mirror …

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To Music 

By Rainer Maria Rilke

Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps:

silence of paintings. You language where all language

ends. You time

standing vertically on the motion of mortal hearts.

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… You stranger: music. You heart-space

grown out of us. The deepest space in us,

which, rising above us, forces its way out,–

holy departure:

… pure,

boundless,

no longer habitable. …

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I want to be with those who know secret things. Or else, alone. (Rainer Maria Rilke)

 

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Music Swims Back To Us

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“Landfill Harmonic Is A Film about the Love of Music”

Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley

Before you proceed to the film review, let me tell you that to truly understand what happened in Cateura, you should watch an absolutely brilliant, fascinating classical music lesson by Benjamin Zander, a famous Ted talk on “The transformative power of classical music” at https://www.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion
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… “Landfill Harmonic” was a film that took me straight out of that lull. It made my soul smile, and I’m willing to bet that it will do the same to each and every one of you. Rarely does a film come by that touches you so purely. This is exactly what happened to me. “Landfill Harmonic” is a film that will inspire you, embrace your soul, and prove that magic can be found in the most unexpected places.

You can view the teaser for the film below:

I was given the privilege to see this film while attending SXSW this year, and it was amazing. I was touched by the plight of these people, and entranced at the ingenuity of them. To steal a line from “Jurassic Park”, “Life finds a way.” Humanity is a wonderful species, and “Landfill Harmonic” is one of the best examples of this.

There are too many instances where we discredit people due to race, gender, and circumstance, but given the opportunity, we all have the potential to shine. I highly suggest seeing this film when it releases. As some of you know, I have been a musician for most of my life, and “Landfill Harmonic” made me want to play. I don’t really have the words to describe this feeling, except to say that the film inspired me, and made me want to create something as beautiful as what I had just witnessed.

Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley

Here is the official SXSW synopsis of the film:

“Landfill Harmonic” follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.

The way that these kids play their instruments is delightful and their passion for music is incredible. Favio Chavez is their teacher and mentor, and I had the opportunity to shake his hand. I really could tell him nothing except thank you. I don’t even think that thank you could begin to sum up my appreciation for him and what he has done in Paraguay. The funny thing is that he seemed to understand exactly what I was saying. This is one of the wonderful things about music.

Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley

The most impressive thing about the film is how the community has banded together to help these children. The children’s music brings them hope, and allows them to see that they can all change their stars.

“Landfill Harmonic” needs your help. Spread the word about this film. Be proactive and help contribute. Part of the proceeds from the film will go to the Recycled Orchestra. They take donated instruments as well. You can get all of the information that you need on the official site for the film, Landfillharmonicmovie.com.

Directed by Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley, “Landfill Orchestra” is a lesson in how precious life is, and why we should not take music and art for granted. I applaud everyone that has contributed to the making of the film, and especially Favio Chavez and the children. You keep on making brilliant music, because I get butterflies in my stomach every time I hear you play it.

Below, are some images from the film:

Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham TownsleyLandfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley Landfill Harmonic, Directors:: Brad Allgood, Graham Townsley

By “Landfill Harmonic Will Touch Your Soul” by  at http://flicksided.com/2015/03/20/landfill-harmonic-will-touch-your-soul/#respond

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Be sure not to miss their inspiring Ted talk at http://ed.ted.com/on/p2vivxdA

Just Remember That Death Is Not The End

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In the last two days the subjects of death and euthanasia have come up frequently on Christian websites. For example, yesterday I read an article in Pravoslavie.ru from the National Review concerning a Dutch doctor who was sued for “Saying No to euthanasia”. Christian Headlines.com say that in Quebec doctors are being forced to comply with the assisted suicide (ie. euthanasia) programme even if they are morally opposed to it.  For anyone who may still have doubts as to where all this “end-the-suffering-by-ending-the-sufferer” cult may lead to, I would recommend Fr. Philip LeMasters’s recent post http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/easternchristianinsights /2015/09/27/an-orthodox-christian-argument-against-physician-assisted-suicide/.

I would like to add my own protest along with other Christian voices to the gross distortion of God’s commandments that I believe “mercy”killing to be. What a gross, appalling violation against the essential sanctity of all Life! How profoundly evil, ugly and merciless such a vision of ‘mercy’ death is!

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Today, rather than any debate, let the haunting beauty and profound spirituality of two Tavener classic works’ refute their arguments. Tavener’s Song for Athene and Funeral Ikos are deeply moving musical works which convey God’s grandeur and sovereignty over life and His overcoming of death. Tavener converted to Orthodox Christianity in 1977, and his compositions after that date are in his own words “icons in sound”, heavily influenced by Byzantine ecclesiastical music. He said he wanted to produce music which is “the sound of God”. In his recent book, The music of silence, Tavener said “If you listen to the music of the East, somehow the divine is already there. It is – which is a parallel with the eternal ‘I am’.” Ivan Moody, the noted Orthodox musicologist and priest, argues that Tavener’s music has “dynamic stasis” in its attempt to convey the theology and spirituality of the Orthodox Church.

Tavener’s Song for Athene is one of his best-known works, since it was sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, consisting of the Hebrew Alleluia (“let us praise the LORD”) sung six times as a ‘refrain’ to excerpts from the Eastern Orthodox funeral service and from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the Byzantine tradition a continuous ison, or drone, underlies the work, adding a profound solemnity in the face of death. Mother Thekla, an Orthodox nun and Tavener’s ‘spiritual mother’ wrote the lyrics. “Let flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” from Hamlet overcomes the ugliness of death; “the Choir of Saints have found the well-spring of life and door of paradise”. “Come enjoy crowns and rewards I have prepared for you” emphasizes the final triumph of life over death. The opening of the song in Tavener’s words should be very tender, “with great inner stillness and serenity”. This corresponds to the Orthodox hesychastic tradition of stillness in prayer, whereas the climactic crescendo, conveying “the resplendent joy in the Resurrection”, the heart of the Orthodox faith, seals appropriately the end of the piece.

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Tavener’s Funeral Ikos is a musical setting of words for the Orthodox Service for the Burial. The words offer great consolation, but they soberly admonish us to prepare for the gateway to Paradise as well.

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Why these bitter words of the dying,

O brethren, which they utter as they go hence?

I am parted from my brethren.

All my friends do I abandon, and go hence.

But whither I go, that understand I not, neither

what shall become of me yonder; only God,

who hath summoned me knoweth.

But make commemoration of me with the song: Alleluia.

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But whither now go the souls?

How dwell they now together there?

This mystery have I desired to learn,

but none can impart aright.

Do they call to mind their own people, as we do them?

Or have they forgotten all those who mourn them

and make the song Alleluia.

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We go forth on the path eternal and as condemned,

with downcast faces,

present ourselves before the only God eternal.

Where then is comeliness?

Where then is wealth?

Where then is the glory of this world?

There shall

none of these things aid us,

but only to say oft the psalm: Alleluia.

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If thou hast shown mercy unto man,

O man, that same mercy shall be shown thee there;

and if on an orphan thou hast shown compassion,

the same sball there deliver thee from want.

If in this life the naked thou hast clothed,

the same shall give thee shelter there, and sing the psalm:

Alleluia.

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Youth and the beauty of the body fade

at the hour of death,

and the tongue then burneth fiercely,

and the parched throat is inflamed.

The beauty of the eyes is quenched then,

the comeliness of the face all altered,

the shapeliness of the neck destroyed;

and the other parts have become numb,

nor often say: Alleluia.

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With ecstasy we are inflamed

if we but hear that there is light eternal yonder;

that there is Paradise,

wherein every soul of Righteous Ones rejoiceth.

Let us all, also, enter into Christ, that all we may cry

aloud thus unto God: Alleluia.

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For TAVENER’S SONG FOR ATHENE, please watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ma_Ouv74_8

For TAVENER’S FUNERAL IKOS, please watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZRrbixpVV0

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Sources for Tavener’s music:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2013/feb/19/contemporary-music-guide-john-tavener

http://www.gimell.com/recording-john-tavener—ikon-of-light—funeral-ikos—the-lamb—tallis-scholars.aspx

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/contemplating-tavener/

http://www.naxos.com/mainsite/blurbs_reviews.asp?item_code=8.555256&catNum=555256&filetype=About this Recording&language=English.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/13/arts/music/john-tavener-dies-at-69-composer-with-eye-on-god.html?_r=2&

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Celestial Cadences

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Mystical, monk-like, reclusive — those are a few words often used to describe Arvo Pärt. His music gets labeled as timeless, spiritual and meditative. The Estonian composer, born 80 years ago today, is perhaps all of these things … and maybe none of them.

Recently, Pärt allowed a film crew follow him for a year. The result is a new documentary by Günter Atteln called The Lost Paradise, an excerpt of which the producers at Accentus Music are sharing prior to its fall release. The excerpt here finds the composer at his piano, at a rehearsal of his music with his wife and musing about a healthy kind of pain in art.

Whether you are an Arvo Pärt first-timer or a fanatic, here’s a short list of things to know about this singularly fascinating artist.

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He may be the most performed living composer

If you accept Bachtrack, the online database tabulating classical music events worldwide, Pärt is popular. For the fourth consecutive year he’s been named the world’s most-performed contemporary composer. Why? It may have to do with the amount of appealing vocal music he’s written. And when you consider that there are an estimated 42.6 million adults and children who sing in choirs in the U.S. alone, that can lead to many Pärt performances. Also, his slow-moving music seems to soothe an increasingly frenzied world.

His reputation as a recluse is not quite true

While he likes his private moments for composing and his walks in the Estonian forests, Pärt let these documentary filmmakers trail him for an entire year. He’s also been an eager participant in recording sessions and rehearsals of his music. And, on a more personal note, when the composer visited Washington, D.C. last year, he didn’t hesitate to invite me to his hotel for an interview.

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His music, since the mid-1970s, is inspired by bells

Pärt found his current compositional voice after a period of struggle and silence. In 1968, he turned away from the complex, atonal music he was writing and nearly stopped composing for eight years. He returned with something completely different— music based on triads of notes, the simplest building blocks of Western music. The result was music of slow, spacious grace, with hints of Gregorian chant. He called his new style “tintinnabuli,” a reference to the ringing of bells.

His music isn’t always meditative and spiritual

Pärt sometimes gets labeled, along with John Tavener and Henryk Górecki, as a part of the “God Squad,” the so-called “holy minimalists” whose music is simply too simple for some tastes. But Pärt’s music wasn’t always ethereal and slow-paced. His early works were in a neo-classical style, and then came a period of atonal and serial worksthat was followed in 1971 by the compelling Symphony No. 3, a bridge between Pärt’s old and new styles.

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He’s often called mystic, but that’s not how he sees himself 

True, Pärt is a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian who writes a lot of spiritual music. And when he talks, his deep thoughts tend to come out as maxims for living a meaningful life. When asked about the silence in his music he told me: “Silence is like fertile soil, which, as it were, awaits our creative act, our seed.” Still, he doesn’t see himself as any kind of prophet. “A mystic!?” he said. “Well, that is the last thing I want to be.”

Source:http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptivecadence/2015/09/11/439247120/get-to-know-one-of-the-most-performed-living-composers

For a glimpse into this rare person, who strikes at my core each time, a true rarity in this world, a composer who captures people always because he radiates with light and no one can resist that,  watch the following mini-documentaries at:
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For a taste of his celestial music, listen to
 
Or Silencio, a meditative collection of 20th-century works for string orchestra, including works by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and Vladimir Martynov, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_GnWMH5MAQ
Or watch the mesmerising Homemade music video for Salve Regina https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1CNNf9iU9Y
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A Spectral Array of Blues

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TROIS COULEURS: BLEU (1993) is a stunning film from one of the world’s preeminent directors, a rich, dark film with all the Kieslowski marks: death, silence, depression, and inner torment of the protagonist. Bleu is an impressive, inspired and inspiring anatomy of Loss, Death & Mourning with certain Christian overtones.

Desson Howe notes that “in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Blue,” the rehabilitation of a human spirit after painful tragedy is given stunning, aesthetic dimension. A story about a woman (Juliette Binoche) who loses her family (her composer-husband and 5-year-old daughter) in a car crash, this Polish-French production is also a spectral array of blues — cold, heart-chilling and beautiful.

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For the trauma of loss and persistence of memory, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osu3j7N1fGU

Emotionally, “Blue” is a grim ordeal, as Binoche (still in the hospital recovering from the accident) attempts suicide, then retreats into deep-freeze mourning. But Kieslowski, cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, set designer Claude Lenoir and composer Zbigniew Preisner infuse the harrowing atmosphere with stylistic rhapsody.” (Washington Post, March 04, 1994 )

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More importantly, unlike Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, certain Christian themes throughout the movie offer the hope of redemption. Throughout Kieslowski implies a form of divine intervention or destiny at work, forcing Julie to come to terms with her past, others, and herself and serving as an agent of epiphanic inspiration.

There is also specifically love and forgiveness: Julie for example discovers that her late husband was having an affair. She tracks down Sandrine, Patrice’s mistress, and finds out that she is carrying his child; Julie arranges for her to have her husband’s house and recognition of his paternity for the child. What a ray of hope and redemption for such a “bleak” film, focusing on death and mourning, to end with the ultrasound of a baby, waiting to be born! Life conquers Death because Love is Life, and nothing, nobody can defeat Love, not even Death, the ultimate enemy.

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Then, there is humility, self-effacement and sacrifice. After the crash, in an attempt to blot out the trauma of loss, Julie destroys the score for her late husband’s last commissioned, though unfinished, work—a piece celebrating European unity, following the end of the Cold War. It is strongly suggested that she wrote, or at least co-wrote, her husband’s last work. Throughout there is an implication that she has hidden her own work behind the public face of her husband. In the final sequence she rewrites and completes the score and the Unity of Europe piece is played, while images are seen of all the people Julie has profoundly affected by her actions.

Significantly, this climactic piece which features chorus and a solo soprano is Saint Paul‘s 1 Corinthians 13 epistle in Greek, the hymn of love.

For a profound rendition of the Christian Hymn of Love (1 Cor, 13) , watch Trois Couleurs: ‘Bleu’ finale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmQ88PWzvR0

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13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 

13 And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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So, although there are some scenes, themes and plot developments in Bleu which conflict in my opinion with a Christian outlook, such as the typical French twist with Julie and her husband’s friend becoming lovers, still I find this film so much more comforting, uplifting and inspiring than The Sad Book* and its like, so plenty in modern art!

*See https://orthodoxcityhermit.com/2015/09/17/heartbreaking-anatomies-of-loss-death-mourning-iexemption/

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Drunken to the Ray of Light

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Poem of the Atoms

By Rumi

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O’ day, arise!

shine your light , the atoms are dancing

Thanks to Him the universe is dancing,

overcome with ecstasy , free from body and mind

I’ll whisper in your ear where their dance is leading them.

All the atoms in the air and in the desert are dancing ,

puzzled and drunken to the ray of light,

they seem insane.

All these atoms are not so different than we are,

happy or miserable,

perplexed and bewildered

We are all beings in the ray of LIGHT from The Beloved,

nothing can be said.

Do not miss the exquisite singing adaptation of the poem by Salar Aghili (motion picture . Bab’Aziz – The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul -Armand Armand) at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaNGDrKKasA

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“The soul of the Christian needs to be refined and sensitive, to have sensibility and wings, to be constantly in fight and to live in dreams, to fly through infinity, among the stars, amidst the greatness of God, amid silence. Whoever wants to become a Christian must first become a poet” (St Porpyrios, Wounded by Love, 107)

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We are more truly in heaven than on earth.
— Julian of Norwich

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God hugs you.
You are encircled by the arms
of the mystery of God.
— Hildegarde of Bingen

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