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Left: Heitor Villa-Lobos at the end of a concert in Tel Aviv, 1952; right: Villa-Lobos, circa 1922 (photos: Wikipedia.org)
Villa-Lobos: The Clown Turned Devout | R. J. Stove | CWR
One of 20th-century music’s most industrious enfants-terribles understood, in his sacred works, Dr. Johnson’s advice: “time to be in earnest.”
On the morning of August 25, 1954, New York Times readers found much of Page One devoted to the news that Brazil’s president Getúlio Vargas – who had dominated his nation’s politics for a quarter of a century even when in short-term eclipse – had killed himself. The man so cryptic that historian Richard Bourne called him “the Sphinx of the Pampas” had sprung one last surprise on his foes.
Nobody accused Vargas of undue charm-offensives. In fact, through his diminutive physique (a mere five feet two inches tall), through his bespectacled face, and through his temperament, he made Gerald Ford look like Justin Bieber. Having achieved absolute office in a 1930 coup, Vargas first used his unbridled strength to smash Brazil’s hitherto influential Communist Party; then, when national fascist elements thought they had a faithful patron in him, he shunted them to the sidelines. Having bestowed upon the Third Reich’s representatives enough honeyed words to suggest that he would join the Axis, he proceeded to hurl the considerable weight of Brazil’s army on the side of the Allies. Brazilian troops saw particularly severe fighting against Mussolini’s Salò Republic. Forced to resign six months after Nazi rule collapsed, Vargas vegetated within the federal senate before returning to the presidential palace in a 1951 election that even his enemies admitted to be fair. But that same army which he had sent to oppose the Führer and the Duce increasingly gave up on him, as inflation approached Weimar Republic levels. Rather than aggravating what had already become a low-level civil war in the streets of Rio (the capital would not move to Brasilia for another six years), Vargas entered one of the palace bedrooms and there committed suicide. The pyjamas which he wore while doing the deed, and the revolver with which he did it, have been on museum display ever since.
Vargas would not require more than a footnote to cultural history if he had not done the arts a turn so good as to compel our gratitude long after his economic and administrative policies – the policies in which he took the greatest pride – had ceased to interest anyone save specialists. That good turn consisted of supporting Heitor Villa-Lobos, by every possible and many an impossible measure the most musically talented man that South America has ever produced.
In 1930 Villa-Lobos, having turned 43, could not forever continue brandishing the flag of enfant-terribilisme. He had eagerly waved that flag for as long as he could, and perhaps longer than was prudent. For example, he rewrote his own résumé with a frantic imaginativeness that might have made Lawrence of Arabia blanch. Like Lawrence, he showed such flair at having blended spin-doctoring with equivocations, half-truths, and periodic outright lies that the resultant heady postmodernist brew frustrated genuine scholarship for decades ahead.
“Too Late Have I Loved Thee”: On the Genius of Franz Joseph Haydn | R. J. Stove | Catholic World Report
He seems to need rediscovering with each new generation. And by the way, let’s lose the fatuous “Papa Haydn” tag.
Strange how certain extremely famous creators are not really famous after all. For proof of this sub-Chestertonian paradox, consult Franz Joseph Haydn, who seems in many respects the musical counterpart to Mark Twain’s definition of a literary classic: “something that everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” The normally perspicacious Schumann—possibly misled by the “Papa” which common usage all too swiftly attached to Haydn’s name —dismissed Haydn as “a familiar friend of the house whom all greet with pleasure and with esteem but who has ceased to arouse any particular interest.” Tchaikovsky remained only slightly more enthusiastic: “I also like some things of Haydn.” Kingsley Amis, in 1982, exhibited downright contempt: “Except perhaps for J.S. Bach, Haydn was the laziest of the great composers.” (Proof, if we required proof, that a verdict once passed upon Belloc fits Amis still more: “As he grew older the rather juvenile desire to ‘shock’ grew stronger and not weaker.”)
Overall it is surprising how accurate the remark credited both to pianist Paul Badura-Skoda and musicologist Sir Donald Tovey—“Haydn The Unknown”—continues to be now. For Cincinnati-based editor Donald Vroon, writing in 1992, “Haydn is almost like a secret.” Two years beforehand, former New York Times critic Joseph Horowitz had provided mostly illuminating specifics about this quasi-clandestine role:
[Haydn] … holds limited popular appeal. He is not a sufferer, a lover, a confessor, a combatant—all the personae we expect our heroic musical executants to embody. His knowing wit and repartee privately gratify the attuned interpreter. Interpreters otherwise attuned—to a mass public, for instance—smooth away his subversive detail, transforming him into a cut-rate Mozart.
In one respect Horowitz's conclusion is inept because parochial. Outside the New York Times mindset, no automatic contradiction exists between “a mass public” and Haydn's output.
Collin Raye's Biography, now available from Ignatius Press!
Renowned country singer Collin Raye’s new autobiography, A Voice Undefeated, takes readers into the intimate, personal struggles of an international star finding faith amidst crises and critical acclaim. The book includes a FREE bonus DVD, featuring an exclusive interview and live performances of some of Collin Raye’s most beloved songs.
Also available as an eBook, which includes a BONUS epilogue featuring heartwarming and inspirational stories of Collin Raye and his encounters with other celebrities around the world over the years of his musical career.
"A treasury of information about a fascinating man who has captured many hearts with his music and charisma. Collin's story is heartrending and heartwarming . . . a witness of how the goodness of God can work miracles in anyone's life."
- Governor Mike Huckabee
"A must-read book to meet the real Collin Raye, a fascinating bundle of seeming contradictions. He was raised in the Christianity of the Bible Belt, but was drawn to the Catholic Church. He dreamed of being a rock star, but became a top-of-the-charts country western singer. He sought fame and fortune, but valued nothing more highly than being a father and making the kind of music that lightens the load of others. "
- Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Host, The World Over, New York Times Bestselling Author
"Like the biblical Psalmist who sang God's praises at time of exhilarating joy and devastating sadness, Collin Raye, gifted with a compelling faith and rich talent, carries the reader of his autobiography through life experiences of "indescribable joy" and "heart dissolving pain". Never doubting that God's guiding hand was upon him at every moment, Collin's struggle to integrate his faith into the whole of life is both inspiring and challenging to fathers, husbands and everyone who, despite our own brokenness, strives to be a witness to Jesus at home, at work and wherever we are. The guiding truth of Collin Raye's life story is well described in I John 4: 16: 'We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us.' "
- Most Rev. Ronald Gainer, Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky
SAN FRANCISCO, April 1, 2014– Collin Raye is one of America’s best-loved country music singers, with 24 Top Ten Singles, including 16 No. 1 hits and a total of five straight platinum and two gold albums, a record for the Epic label. But perhaps most noteworthy is Raye’s remarkable personal story outside of country music, which includes his conversion to Catholicism; overcoming a devastating tragedy in his family; and his profound advocacy and love for the poor and disabled. Raye chronicles his unique and unforgettable religious journey and life as a country music star in his new memoir, A VOICE UNDEFEATED.
In A VOICE UNDEFEATED, Raye gives readers a down-to-earth account of his personal and professional life. From his childhood in Arkansas and Texas through his days with the Wray Brothers Band in Oregon and Reno to his rise to international stardom, Raye discusses his journey to the top of the music world and provides an intimate diary of a Catholic who has relied upon his faith to overcome great professional and personal losses — most recently, his beloved 9-year-old granddaughter, Haley, who died in 2010 from an undiagnosed neurological disease. Since Haley’s death, Raye has become an outspoken advocate for the sick and disabled, and has established the Haley Bell Blesséd Chair Foundation to provide wheelchairs to families with special needs children.
Raye also provides a revealing look inside Nashville: His climb to the top of the charts and production of hit after hit; his fallout with the giants of the industry; and his strong criticism of today’s raunchy lyrics that tear down our culture and war against the great country traditions.
“Collin Raye’s belief that an artist’s real success is in the quality and artistry of his work makes him a good showman,” says Mother Dolores Hart, author of THE EAR OF THE HEART. “The love he discovers though his faith in God makes him a great man.”
For more information, to request a review copy, or to schedule an interview with Collin Raye, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or KWandra@CarmelCommunications.com) of Carmel Communications.
More about the book, now available from Ignatius Press:
When Collin Raye's powerful, golden voice dazzled the country music scene in 1991 with his Number One hit single "Love, Me", country music listeners fell in love with one of the great voices of our time. A new star was rising, and Collin's success continued throughout the nineties with over eight million records sold.
Raye's autobiography, A Voice Undefeated, gives readers a down-to-earth account of the author's personal and professional life. From his childhood in Arkansas and Texas through his days with the Wray Brothers Band in Oregon and Reno to his rise to international stardom, this book is both a journey to the top of the music world and an intimate diary of a soul that has suffered great professional and personal losses.
Many who love Collin Raye, the successful country music artist, don't know much about Collin Raye, the man, and the many trials he has endured with faith and courage. Most recently his beloved nine-year-old granddaughter, Haley, died in 2010 from an undiagnosed neurological disease. Since Haley's death, Collin has become an advocate for the sick and disabled and has established the Haley Bell Blesséd Chair Foundation to provide wheelchairs to families with special needs children.
This is a remarkable, inspirational story told by the man who lived it. It is a story of faith, of struggle, of suffering, of profound love, and ultimately of triumph in the midst of tragedy.
Includes 32 pages of color photos.
Includes DVD of never-before-seen personal interview and three songs written by Collin, "Undefeated", "She's With Me", and "Give Me Jesus" that are intimate to his story.
Collin Raye is one of America's best-loved country singers. He produced twenty-four Top Ten singles, of which sixteen were Number One hits, and a total of five straight platinum and two gold albums, which is a record for the Epic label to this day. He is an advocate for sick and disabled persons and continues to perform live throughout the country.
"It was no coincidence that Collin Raye's signature piece of music was ‘Love, me'. His belief that an artist's real success was in the quality and artistry of his work made him a good showman. The love he discovered in his faith in God and his conversion made him a great man. His book, in his honesty and drive for real perfection, is a story written in mystical sensitivity. It is beautiful to discover how this boy from seedy bars, fairs and casinos, southern rock and jazz, became a voice undefeated for Christ." - Mother Dolores Hart, Author, The Ear of the Heart
"With talent, drive, and hard work, Collin Raye reached the top of his game and was even once called the ‘star quarterback' of country music. His heartfelt story of perseverance and ongoing conversion is sure to encourage anyone striving to live by faith in a secular world." - Marcus Grodi, EWTN Host, The Journey Home
"The sharp shadow of suffering has fallen across the life of Collin Raye in ways that would have felled lesser men. But, as the Bowie County hit-maker knows well, even the shadows are nothing without the Light. Through the astounding musical gift that earned him five Grammy nominations (and counting), Raye has a rare knack for transforming all that suffering into an experience of indescribable consolation. He's all about stories, and those told here are too unlikely to be fiction! Whatever your taste in music, A Voice Undefeated is part spiritual confession, part show biz memoir, and part rich slice of Americana." - Patrick Coffin, Radio Host, Catholic Answers
"Like the biblical Psalmist who sang God's praises at time of exhilarating joy and devastating sadness, Collin Raye, gifted with a compelling faith and rich talent, carries the reader of his autobiography through life experiences of "indescribable joy" and "heart dissolving pain". Never doubting that God's guiding hand was upon him at every moment, Collin's struggle to integrate his faith into the whole of life is both inspiring and challenging to fathers, husbands and everyone who, despite our own brokenness, strives to be a witness to Jesus at home, at work and wherever we are. The guiding truth of Collin Raye's life story is well described in I John 4: 16: 'We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us.' " - Most Rev. Ronald Gainer, Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky
"A must-read book to meet the real Collin Raye, a fascinating bundle of seeming contradictions. He was raised in the Christianity of the Bible Belt, but was drawn to the Catholic Church. He dreamed of being a rock star, but became a top-of-the-charts country western singer. He sought fame and fortune, but valued nothing more highly than being a father and making the kind of music that lightens the load of others. " - Raymond Arroyo, EWTN Host, The World Over, New York Times Bestselling Author
"If there were ever a book to show modern day believers that in the end nothing matters but faith and family, then Collin's book is it. Despite becoming a country music superstar, Collin is breathtakingly truthful and transparent about how fleeting fame and fortune can really be. His fans will find his roller-coaster journey to the top of the charts fascinating but it is his walk with the Lord and into the Catholic church that is truly compelling, heartwarming, and challenging all at the same time. Collin illustrates how the Church's teaching on suffering and end of life issues carried him through some of the darkest times. Readers will also get the real scoop on the music industry and learn why Nashville has in many ways gone the way of the culture; losing its soul for the sake of profit. A Voice Undefeated is simply a great read all around offering valuable lessons no matter where a person is faith wise." - Teresa Tomeo, Motivational Speaker, Best Selling Author, Syndicated Catholic Talk Show Host
"A treasury of information about a fascinating man who has captured many hearts with his music and charisma. Collin's story is heartrending and heartwarming . . . a witness of how the goodness of God can work miracles in anyone's life." - Governor Mike Huckabee
"Powerful stuff! Collin Raye has faced it all, in life and in the oftentimes treacherous music business. Collin uses every setback to generate a step forward to a new level of his life and career. Read his story and learn from one of the strongest souls you'll ever meet." - Lorianne Crook & Charlie Chase, Radio Hosts, The Crook & Chase Countdown
"Collin Raye has always stood up for causes that are near to his heart. A Voice Undefeated gives us a glimpse into his personal family life and heartaches, his music career, and his profound love of music. His analysis of today's music culture and his courageous challenge to Nashville to recapture the legacy of its roots is a stark reminder of the gift we all inherited from the great legends of Country music." - Bobby Roberts CEO, The Bobby Roberts Company, Inc
Make Your Lent Beautiful with Lent at Ephesus | Christopher S. Morrissey | CWR
A practical guide to incorporating the latest hit album from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles into your Lenten meditations.
Lift high the cross? Yes, and right to the top of the classical music charts.
With their third hit album in as many years, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, have done it again. They are at the top of the Billboard Classical chart. And this time, they are proclaiming the love of Christ with a terrific new CD that is packed full of Lenten repertoire.
The album is called Lent at Ephesus because, since 2006, these cloistered nuns have been in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus. The nuns, in their daily liturgical practice, are accustomed to chanting the very best of the Church’s musical treasures. They follow a monastic horarium as laid out by St. Benedict in his Rule. They chant the Divine Office together eight times a day in Latin according to the 1962Breviarium Monasticum.
Their first album, Advent at Ephesus (2012), spent six consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard’s Classical Traditional Music chart. Their second album, Angels and Saints at Ephesus (2013), spent 13 consecutive weeks at number one on the same chart.
What is so wonderful about each one of their CDs is that these nuns sing with such remarkable sincerity. They thus reveal to the listener why this traditional music exists: namely, in order to embody the lovely movements of a prayerful heart.
Pope Francis garnered much attention when, in Evangelii Gaudium, he condemned what he called “narcissistic and authoritarian elitism” (EG 95): “In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.”
As if to illustrate precisely the opposite—how to avoid “narcissistic and authoritarian elitism”—the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, have made this beautiful music easily accessible and widely available.
The critically acclaimed Benedictines of Mary, who have received accolades from USA Today, NPR, ABC's Good Morning America and beyond, now return with their latest release, Lent at Ephesus. This compilation of poignant chants, intricate harmonies and rousing hymns of glory and redemption includes: "O Sacred Head Surrounded," made famous by Bach's oratorios, "All Glory Laud and Honor," the well known "Adoramus Te Christe" and the entrancing "Improperia" from the liturgy of Good Friday. Three original pieces are also featured among the generous 23 tracks. Let the vibrant purity of their monastic sound peacefully escort you through the penitential season of Lent.
The Fortunate Faith of Audrey Assad | Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report
The singer-songwriter discusses her new album, faith, conversion, and why she doesn't make “Christian music”
Audrey Assad (www.audreyassad.com) is a thirty-year-old singer, pianist, and songwriter who has steadily established herself in recent years as an exceptional musical artist with a gift for deeply spiritual lyrics and memorable melodies.
Assad was raised in a Protestant home in New Jersey, then moved with her family to Florida in her late teens where she began to study and learn more about Catholicism. She entered the Church in 2007. Her first album, The House You’re Building (2010), was recognized on Amazon.com as Christian Album of the Year and by iTunes as Christian Breakthrough Album of the Year. Her second album, Heart (2012), was critically acclaimed and reached #3 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart. The lyrics in those albums revealed the influence of St. Augustine, the Jesuit poet and priest Gerald Manley Hopkins, and the poet Francis Thompson.
Her new, self-produced album, Fortunate Fall, was released this past August.
Assad recently answered some questions from Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, about her music, her decision to become Catholic, the influence of Augustine on her writing, and why Catholic artists need to pursue beauty and truth, no matter the cost.
CWR: Your first two studio albums, The House You're Building and Heart contained many songs oriented toward worship, but your new album, Fortunate Fall, is focused entirely on music to be used in personal devotion and public worship. What inspired you to pursue making such an album? How do you envision your music being used in liturgy and in private prayer?
Assad: After making my first two albums (and after a few years in the music business) I found myself at a personal crossroads: I asked myself what, as a Catholic, I should be doing in the world—and how I should be making music. In that period of discernment I came to the conclusion that there is no room in my artist’s heart for making “Christian pop” — less still for making what has come to be known as “Contemporary Christian music.” In these phrases, the word “Christian” is a modifier, not a noun—essentially, it’s become a marketing term. I don’t believe that’s how the word should be used. So going forward, I don’t make “Christian music”, even when it’s intended for the Church. I make Church music, and that’s what Fortunate Fall is.
As you stated, the music on Fortunate Fall is intended for personal devotion and public worship. I envision it being incorporated into anything from prayer time in the car on the way to work to Adoration and even, in some cases, Mass -- based on the Church’s guidelines, we did our best to notate appropriate usages in the liner notes. Hopefully that’s helpful to those who pick up a physical copy!
CWR: The influence of St. Augustine is front and center, from the title of the album to the lyrics of many of the songs. When did you first discover Augustine and how has he affected you as a person and an artist?
Assad: I discovered St. Augustine as I was on my way into the Catholic Church—I was confirmed in 2007. In the two years of study I did before coming into the Church, St. Augustine was a steady and pulsing voice in my reading. Though he and C. S. Lewis are different, I think they share this similarity, and thus share a large amount of influence in my work: they both think like philosophers and write like poets. I can’t compare myself to either of them, but they inspire me in that way, and in that way I hope to be as like them as possible.
CWR: Three themes stand out upon repeated listens: the Incarnation, redemption, and abandonment to God's will. What are some of the key connections you see among the three? What other themes were central to the writing and making of the album?
Liturgical Music Today: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times | Carl E. Olson | CWR
Joseph P. Swain, author of Sacred Treasure: Understanding Catholic Liturgical Music, with straight talk about sacred music.
Joseph P. Swain
professor of music at Colgate University and author of several
books about music, including A
Historical Dictionary of Sacred Music (2006),
Rhythm: Analysis and Interpretation (Oxford,
2002), and Musical
1997). He has also written numerous articles for journals including
Music Perception, Journal of Musicology, Music Analysis, Criticus
Musicus, Opera Quarterly, and
Catholic World Report. His
most recent book isSacred
Treasure: Understanding Catholic Liturgical Music(Liturgical
Press, 2012), which is described as “an
exercise in pragmatic music criticism. … Sacred
how the hard facts of music must be taken into account in any
holistic conception and any lasting form of liturgical music.” Dr.
Swain was recently interviewed by Carl E. Olson, editor of Catholic
about his book and the state of liturgical music, what Vatican II
actually said about sacred music, and what can be done to improve the
music heard in parishes throughout the United States and beyond.
Dickens' famous opening lines in A
Tale of Two Cities,
you open your book by stating that when it comes to
Roman Catholic liturgical music, it is both the worst of times and
the best of times. What are some examples of each? What is unique
about this particular era as far as liturgical music is concerned?
Swain: At no time in history has the Church had to hand, in print
music and recordings, such a wealth of liturgical music of amazing
variety and of the highest quality. At no time have such numbers of
highly trained church musicians been available to sing and play that
music. At no time has there been such a pitch of interest in liturgy
and its music on the part of everyday, churchgoing Catholics. These
are the best of times.
the same time, only a tiny fraction of the liturgical music thought
by Catholics and non-Catholics alike to be among the most beautiful
ever conceived is ever heard by everyday Catholics at mass. The fine
professionals who want to contribute their services are often not
allowed to perform it; they put aside their long training and look
for other kinds of work. And the interest in liturgical music has
apparently led only to strife within and between parishes, rather
than healthy traditions of liturgical music, and there appears to be
no end in sight.
paradoxes are what make our times unique in the history of liturgical
Sacred Treasure covers a tremendous amount of
material—musical, theological, historical, and cultural—and you
describe it, in the Preface, as "an exercise in pragmatic music
criticism." What was your main goal in writing the book? How
might, respectively, a liturgist, a musician, and an "average"
lay person benefit from reading it?
The Arts—Agents of Change and Source of Enchantment | Carl E. Olson | CWR
Dana and Ted Gioia discuss literature, music, education, business, culture, and the Catholic Faith.
and Ted Gioia (pronounced JOY-uh) are authors,
musicians, composers, critics, educators, and businessmen. They are also
brothers, born and raised in Hawthorne, California, in an Italian-Mexican,
Catholic family. Although both have been interviewed numerous times over the
years, this marks the first time they have been interviewed together, answering
the same questions.
the eldest, is an internationally acclaimed and
award-winning poet, and the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the
Arts. He received a BA and an MBA from Stanford University and an M.A. in
Comparative Literature from Harvard University. He has published four
full-length collections of poetry (and several shorter collections), and the
collection Interrogations at Noon won the 2002 American Book Award. His poetry has also appeared in
numerous anthologies. His 1991 book, Can
Poetry Matter?, was a finalist for the National Book Critics
Circle award. His poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in
many magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post Book World, The New York Times Book
Review, Slate, and The Hudson Review. Dana has written three opera libretti
and is an active translator of poetry from Latin, Italian, and German. Renominated
in November 2006 for a second term and once again unanimously confirmed by the
US Senate, he was the ninth Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He
left his position as Chairman in 2009, and in 2011 he became the Judge Widney
Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California,
where he teaches each fall semester. He is also a member of the College of
Fellows at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (Berkeley). Dana has
been the recipient of ten honorary degrees and has won numerous awards,
including the 2010 Laetare Medal from Notre Dame. He and his wife, Mary, have
two sons, and he divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County,
Ted Gioia (www.TedGioia.com), seven years younger than Dana, has published eight non-fiction
books, most recently the bestselling The Jazz
Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. His book TheHistory of Jazzwas selected as one of the twenty best books of the year in 1997
by Jonathan Yardley in The Washington
Post, and was chosen as a notable book of the year in The New York Times. His 2008 book Delta Blues was also selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 most notable of the year, and
was picked as one of the best books of the year by The Economist. In 2006, Ted published two books simultaneously, Work Songs and Healing Songs, and both were honored with a special ASCAP-Deems
Taylor Award. His 2009 book, The Birth
(and the Death) of Cool, was a work of cultural criticism and a historical
survey of hipness, and his concept of post-cool,
outlined in this work, was highlighted as one of the “ideas of the year” by Adbusters. Ted’s writings have appeared
in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Salon, American Scholar, Hudson Review, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other
publications. Ted received a degree in English at Stanford (graduating with
honors and distinction), served as editor of Stanford’s literary magazine, Sequoia. He also worked extensively as a
jazz pianist during that time, and designed and taught a class on jazz at
Stanford while still an undergraduate. After graduation, Gioia received a
degree in philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University, where he
graduated with first class honors. He then received an MBA from Stanford
University. Ted has also consulted to Fortune 500 companies, and has undertaken
business projects in numerous countries on five continents. In the 1980s he
established a formal jazz studies program at Stanford, and served on the
faculty alongside artist-in-residence Stan Getz for several years. His first
book, The Imperfect Art, published in 1988, was
awarded the ASCAP-Deems Taylor award and was named a “Jazz Book of the Century”
by Jazz Educators Journal. Ted has
recorded several jazz albums, including The End of the OpenRoad, Tango Cool, and The City is a Chinese Vase.
Carl E. Olson, editor of CWR, interviewed Dana and Ted over the
past couple of months, asking each the same questions about their childhood,
their faith, literature and music, education, American culture, and the role of
the Church in supporting the arts.
CWR: Is it accurate to say
that two influences profoundly shaped your childhood years: your family’s
Catholic faith and your uncle, Ted, who died before you had a chance to know
him? What role did each play in your intellectual and cultural formation? What
other influences are noteworthy?
Carl's Cut's (For the End of Summer, Start of Fall) | Carl E. Olson | CWR blog
Commentary on matters big, small, light, heavy, ecclesial, secular, musical, and otherwise.
friend, whose alma mater is the University of Notre Dame, wrote me
this morning: "Apparently, Pope Francis gave some crazy
interview in which he implied that Catholics should not be
'obsessed' with ND football. A sure sign the end of all things
is nigh." He did not send a link to the original comment in
Italian, so I cannot verify.
is rumored that the word of the month for September is "credibility".
It's not clear how credible those rumors really are.
recent decades, there have been serious cuts to the funding of good,
sharp satire. One reason is that it's difficult to satirize a culture
that would make most forays into the satirical arts look like a pale
imitation of the madness that holds sway. A recent example is the
case of a former British soldier who is now, well, something else
former trained soldier has swapped her Territorial Army beret for a
veil and become Britain's first transgender Muslim woman. Lucy
Vallender used to be called Laurens and says she is finally 'true to
herself' after a sex change three years ago. The 28-year-old is now
married to a Muslim man she met on an online dating site, but he did
not know she was once a man when they wed.
of course he didn't. Because that would likely exhibit some sort of
"gender bias", right? Except I doubt that was part of the
equation. But if this story were an equation, we'd have to use the
"≠" sign as nothing adds up.
of changes, the former Crystal Cathedral is undergoing many
Crystal Cathedral was to [Robert] Schuller what Graceland was to
Elvis. Now it has been bought by the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Orange, which has long coveted having a cathedral that sat at the
center of its vast footprint of 1.2 million Catholics.
name has already been changed to the Christ Cathedral. But the work
of liturgical consultants, priests and architects to transform a
temple so closely identified as a symbol of Schuller's sunny,
uniquely Southern Californian theology into one that conforms to the
traditions of the Roman Catholic Church has just begun.
exterior will always be the Crystal Cathedral, at least for a while,"
said Duncan Stroik, a professor of architecture at Notre Dame and
editor of the publication Sacred Architecture Journal. "Catholic
on the inside, but kind of Protestant on the outside."
who have taken on the project recognize that their assignment is a
intimidating one, but they also have faith: They can turn the Crystal
Cathedral into the Christ Cathedral.
Hollywood out of ideas? Has it tapped out when it comes to fresh
cinematic adventures for the masses? I'd say the answer is tilting
hard toward “Yes” when there
is a remake of Left Behindcurrently in the works.
And it stars Nicholas Cage. Yes, the Apocalypse is upon us, and it
will cost you $10.00 to experience for two hours.
light of recent events and the reaction of some, I propose that
Matthew 16:18 (New Jerusalem Translation) be re-written as follows:
I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my
community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it, up
and until a twenty-first century pope gives a lengthy interview which
fractures the very foundation of said community and destroys the
faith of millions and plunges the world into darkness and confusion
not seen since said pope's comments about atheism a few months
bit wordy, I suppose, but I'm sure the original Greek will flow like
honey. (And, please, spare me the angry e-mails. Just leave angry comments. We need more comments. I get paid by the comment.)
Cut of the Week comes courtesy of mushy, trendy, lefty
“Evangelical” author and know-it-all, Brian McClaren: “We
have a Catholic priesthood more concerned with keeping women out of
the priesthood as the world is destroyed by carbon gases. … We have
evangelicals with the audacity to say that homosexual people are
ruining marriage. I think anyone who says that should be laughed off
the stage. Heterosexual people do that on their own, thanks.” No
word if McClaren and Jody Bottum are working on a book together yet.
Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, All Ye Sisters | Christopher S. Morrissey | Catholic World Report
A chart-topping album from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist serves up beauty so we may open our hearts to God.
These are the sisters who
surprised even Oprah. Exuberant and radiant, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have been shining
their light in the most surprising cultural venues. Oprah herself was amazed to learn about how young women have
been attracted to this vibrant community, bursting with vocations, where the
average age is under 30. Now as always, vows of poverty, chastity, and
obedience bear fruitful witness. A life fully devoted to prayer and apostolic
service is ever beautiful.
on that earlier media attention from daytime television, the sisters have just
now released Mater
highly successful album of sacred music that has quickly ascended the classical
charts since its release in August. Its calm and contemplative beauty brings
the listener into the aural space where the sisters themselves pray daily. By
sharing some of their favorite sacred music with the world, they make striking
use of modern media to issue a special invitation. They want everyone to open
their hearts to the peace and joy that they have discovered. This music is the
way of beauty by which
they make their appeal.
The sisters are a community of
consecrated women canonically established in 1997 by Cardinal John O’Connor of
New York. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist follow the
monastic observance given to them by their tradition. This Dominican tradition
encompasses both common life and cloister. Thus they experience times of
silence on a daily basis, as well as sing the Divine Office and attend daily
Mass. In addition, the sisters have an active charism that blooms forth in
their love for education and the formation of the young. They teach in and
administer small, private Catholic schools, such as the Spiritus Sanctus
Academies in Michigan.
Clearly, these Dominican sisters
have used prayerful discernment and deployed their gifts wisely and judiciously
with their album release. This simple and humble offering of a selection of
music—a musical window into their life of joy—has obviously moved many people.
I hope you will buy copies not only for yourself, but also as quiet and
unassuming gifts to give to anyone. You never know what response a surprise
gift may evoke. The sisters’ music could stir up a surprising response in someone’s
The Feast of Two Remarkable Doctors | Carl E. Olson
Today is the Feast of two Doctors of the Church, a man and a woman who are remarkable in many ways, including in how very different they are from one another.
First, St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) was an Italian and one of the first Jesuits who became a leading controversialist and apologist due to his theological prowess. He worked closely with St. Aloysius Gonzaga and St. Francis de Sales (the latter also being named a Doctor of the Church). Among Bellarmine's many accomplishments, his work in the realm of ecclesiology is especially notable, as Fr. John Hardon, SJ, pointed out years ago in a fine essay, "Communion of Saints: St. Robert Bellarmine on the Mystical Body of Christ":
It is significant that Bellarmine went out of his way to
emphasize what seems so obvious to us—that the Mystical Body of Christ is
also the established Church of Christ. Until his time, there were relatively
few Christians not in communion with Rome who claimed that their organization
was the Body of Christ of which St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "You are the
Body of Christ, member for member" (I Cor., xii. 27). But with the advent of
Luther and Calvin the situation changed. On the one hand, they preached an
invisible Church founded on faith and predestination; on the other hand, they
called their Church the Body of Christ. This was a new idea and challenge to
traditional Catholic theology.
The Mystical Body of Christ, the predestinarians argued, is
not unlike His tangible physical Body. And since the whole physical Body of
Christ is in heaven and glorified with all its component parts, it follows that
the Mystical Body should also arrive at heavenly glory in all its individual
members. The statement looks harmless enough until we examine its implications.
If every member of the Mystical Body is going to be saved and the Church of
Christ is the Body, then the only members of the Church are those whom God has
eternally decreed should enter heaven. Everyone else is a putative member only,
deceived by God and deceiving himself that he is even a Christian, much less a
part of the Mystical Body.
"My first reaction to this doctrine," Bellarmine observes,
"is that the opposition has pushed the analogy between the mystical and
physical Bodies of Christ far beyond the limits ever intended for them by the
Apostle. They are certainly alive in general outline, but not in every detail.
And besides, even the physical Body of Christ entered heaven and was glorified
only in its formal constituents, but not in all its natural parts, many of
which were lost and changed with the passage of time, as we notice happens in
our own bodies.
So, it is correct enough to say that the whole Mystical Body
will be saved in its constitutive elements, inasmuch as every class in the
Catholic Church—apostles, prophets, teachers, confessors and
virgins—will be represented among the saved. It is not true, however,
that all its material elements, that is, every numerical member of the Mystical
Body, will finally attain to salvation."
This same idea—that external membership does not, in fact, equal certain salvation—was clearly reiterated in Vatican II's Lumen Gentium:
Church Fathers and Church Music | Christopher B. Warner | CWR
The Fathers of the Church can help us refine our liturgical worship after 50 years of subjection to sentimental pop music.
At the beginning of this 50th
anniversary year of Vatican II, Benedict XVI called for a renewed, authentic
reading and implementation of the council documents. After suffering through
many decades of vulgar, saccharine Church music, it is encouraging to note a
rise of musicians who are serious about authentic reform of sacred worship. The
recent Sacred Liturgy Conference in Rome was a great success, and there is a
spirit of joyful, liturgical rejuvenation among the youth. Today’s composers
are considering many facets of sacred music theory and history as they strive for
the renewal of theocentric orthodoxy in liturgical worship. A brief look at the
last 50 years in light of the early Church Fathers’ teachings provides a
surprisingly relevant breath of fresh air.
Most Catholics are all too familiar with the folk music “reforms”
to liturgical music of the 1970s and ’80s. Adopting secular music and the spirit of
the age, untutored youth began setting music to pop-style rhythms and melodies,
usually with acoustic guitar accompaniment. This style of liturgical music
became immensely popular, spread rapidly, and was taken up by prolific
composers such as Marty Haugen and David Haas. Michael Matheson Miller of the
Acton Institute refers to this liturgical Candyland as the “suburban rite.” The
problem with this music, noted by more than one critic, is that it is filled with
fuzzy doctrine and the spirit of the sexual revolution: “peace,” “love,” and
On the other hand, many remember
the Grammy-award winning CD Chant, which hit the music market in 1994
and became an overnight sensation. Chant, sung by the Benedictine monks
of Santo Domingo de Silos, appealed to traditional Christians and New-Age
listeners alike. It was considered the perfect antidote to a stressful,
workaholic world exacerbated by paltry pop music. The perennial qualities of
plainchant became self-evident to the listener of these recordings. But for the
monks, plainchant was more than a musical expression that they appreciated and
polished like curators of a museum; it was essential to their life of prayer.
The monks explained in the jewel-case insert for Chant how they had become
physically ill, suffering fatigue and exhaustion, while experimenting with
post-Vatican II music for the Divine Office. The sentimental emotion of pop and
folk melodies was not sustainable over a seven-hour worship day.
Concilium, the Second
Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, noted that, in
addition to recent pontiffs, the early Fathers of the Church also illuminate
the function of sacred music. A deeper reading of the Fathers, beloved by Pope
Emeritus Benedict, can assist us in liturgical renewal.
the Great and charismatic music
Far from being distant and “out
of touch,” the words of the Fathers are quite down-to-earth and often humorous.
Singing both a capella and with the accompaniment of organ,
trumpet, and chimes, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the
Eucharist have created a collection that is reflective of the music in
their daily community life.
This album is produced by Blanton Alspaugh, 2013 Grammy Award Winning
Classical Producer of Year. And engineered by John Newton, 3x Grammy
Here is a recent CBS News piece about the Dominican Sisters and their album:
by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
Be transported to their Ann Arbor chapel and experience their beautiful and pure renditions of sacred music. The fifteen peaceful and serene songs of this debut release will include original compositions written by the Sisters that reflect their Dominican spirituality, along with a selection of modern and ancient hymns and chants in English and in Latin. Singing both a capella and with the accompaniment of organ, trumpet, and chimes, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist have created a collection that is reflective of the music in their daily community life.
This album is produced by Blanton Alspaugh, 2013 Grammy Award Winning Classical Producer of Year. And engineered by John Newton, 3x Grammy Award Winner.
The Sisters will also be recognized due to their multiple appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," and the extensive publicity they have received in the US and Canada through outlets such as The New York Times, The Detroit Free Press, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox News and beyond.The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, founded 16 years ago, also have teaching missions in schools all over the US. They chant the Divine Office throughout the day and their favorite hymns throughout the year, while also composing music of their own. They follow in the thirteenth-century footsteps of St. Dominic, while very much engaging the modern world. Their Motherhouse is in Ann Arbor, MI, and they are in the process of raising funds to construct a new priory in Texas
The Glorious Chant of "Angels and Saints at
Ephesus" | Christopher S. Morrissey | Catholic World Report
A beautiful new album from the Benedictines of Mary,
Queen of Apostles, helps us make room in our lives for truth.
Everybody likes singing Sisters. I remember as a child
hearing the music that my mother liked to play. They were vinyl records and
sometimes my memory can still recreate the voices of those women religious.
Today the delivery method has changed. Direct
digital downloads are now possible. Recently, some liturgical chants have
been finding their way out from the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus and into the
world by way of the digital path.
The Sisters there live a life of union with God in prayer according
to the Rule of St. Benedict. They have a love for the traditional liturgy and
devote themselves in a special way to prayerfully interceding for the sacred
priesthood and to making vestments and altar linens. Founded in 1995, this
young, monastic order of Sisters sings together eight times a day, chanting the
Divine Office in Latin.
Their previous album with De Montfort Music and Decca
Records, Advent at Ephesus, was a big
hit last year. This week, their new album, Angels
and Saints at Ephesus, is released. It contains a nice selection of
hymns and chants from various liturgical occasions.
Nine-time International Grammy-winning producer Christopher
Alder (from Germany) and two-time Grammy-winning engineer Mark Donahue worked
together to capture the sound of the Sisters in their contemplative
environment. Because the music comes forth from the genuine liturgical life
lived by the Sisters, it has an authenticity and purity that gives it a special
I think that if we make a deliberate effort to integrate
this sort of music into our own daily practices, we can, when we listen to it,
create a space in our lives that helps us replace ugliness with beauty. We can
thereby dwell in a place where we become better able to contemplate truth and
to grow in our understanding of truth.
The reason I emphasize this link between beauty and truth is
because Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, when he was still a cardinal, made a very
important speech on this theme. It was called, “Wounded By the Arrow of Beauty,”
and it is still available in a book from Ignatius
“The encounter with beauty can become the wound of the arrow
that strikes the soul and thus makes it see clearly, so that henceforth it has
criteria, based on what it has experienced, and can now weigh the arguments
correctly,” said then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
Beauty thus serves a great purpose. It educates our
perceptions in order that we may proceed to grasp truth better. As Ratzinger
explained it, beauty “brings us into contact with the power of truth.” The danger, however, is that an album such as Angels
and Saints at Ephesus becomes just another commodity in the
marketplace. And if we are honest, we will observe that such has often been the
case with previous instances of hit records of sacred music. (Anyone remember
the Gregorian chant craze from a while back?)
The problem is that people sample an exotic new thing only
for a while. They enter into its spirit only in a superficial way. They soon
move on to something else that becomes a newer source of distraction or
excitement in their lives.
The Renaissance of the Mass Propers | J. J. Ziegler | Catholic World Report
After years of neglect in many American parishes, chanted Mass propers are making a comeback, thanks in part to new online resources.
The publication of the new English translation of the Roman Missal has helped revive interest in the use of chant in the ordinary form of Holy Mass. The Roman Missal includes many more chanted texts than did the previous edition, allowing clergy and people alike to “sing the Mass, rather than merely to sing at Mass,” as Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the ICEL (International Committee on English in the Liturgy) Secretariat, said in a 2010 address.
The new Roman Missal includes a new translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which also has fostered greater interest in chant. CitingSacrosanctum Concilium (the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy) and subsequent curial documents, the GIRM states that “the main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy.… Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings” (nos. 41-42).
When Catholics think of Gregorian chant at Mass, many tend first to think of chants associated with the Ordinary of the Mass—that is, the parts of the Mass that tend not to vary from day to day—for example, the Kyrie, Gloria, Profession of Faith (Credo), Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.
But there is also another set of chanted prayers at Mass: the propers, that is, five chants that are proper, or specific, to each Mass. The past two years have witnessed a revival of interest in the propers in parishes in the English-speaking world.
Benedict’s Finale with Beethoven: A “Heroic” Moment | Msgr. Daniel B. Gallagher | Catholic World Report
Pope Benedict’s pontificate comes to a fitting musical conclusion with a performance of Beethoven’s magnificent Eroica Symphony.
weeks of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate will be filled with many “lasts.” Ash
Wednesday was his last public Mass. February 14 was his last meeting with
priests and seminarians of the Diocese of Rome. February 24 will be his last
Angelus. His last general audience will take place on February 27 before his
final transport to Castel Gandolfo via helicopter on February 28.
also marked a “last,” perhaps one that will not go down in the annals of
history as it should. Everybody knew it would be the last Vatican concert for
Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, before he finishes his
term as Head of State, but nobody imagined it would be the last concert for
Benedict XVI as Supreme Pontiff.
Embassy to the Holy See offers the concert each year in commemoration of the Lateran
Treaty. The orchestra Maggio Musicale Fiorentino,
directed by Zubin Mehta, performed the overture to Giuseppe Verdi’s La forza del destino and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. It is a pity this
magnificent concert will forever be overshadowed by the events that followed in
its wake. Benedict and Mr. Napolitano, both avid music fans, enjoyed similar
occasions in the past, most notably at Castel Gandolfo last July when Daniel
Barenboim directed the West-East Divan Orchestra in a performance of
Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies.
As grand as
those pieces are, they simply do not match up to Beethoven’s revolutionary Third
Symphony in E-flat major, also known as the Eroica
The “Great Man” and what lies
beyond the grave
sensational tales about the composer’s life distract us from his music. For one
just getting into Beethoven, it would be best to listen to his symphonies before
picking up a biography. Knowing something about his life would certainly help,
but if we could go back in time and sit down with him, Beethoven would be much
more interested in playing his latest composition than in rattling on about
In no small
part, his eagerness to play rather than chat would be motivated by the
increasing deafness that began to assail him at the robust age of 30. It
eventually prompted him to write a letter to his brothers Karl and Johann now
known as the “Heiligenstadt Testament.” It is Ludwig’s excruciating apologia
for a reclusive lifestyle and the terrible misunderstandings it caused. Ludwig
begs his brothers to have his physician publically declare his condition after
his death so that the world “may become reconciled to me.”