Thursday, February 8, 2018

God’s Own Music

From The New York Review of Books-

The Anglican choral tradition is one of the great successes of English cultural diffusion, to rank with Association Football (soccer), cricket, and the works of William Shakespeare. It has a cultural heft way beyond its parochial and very specific origins, and it turns up in the oddest places. The most incongruous example must surely be the upmarket gloss that Thomas Tallis’s forty-part motet Spem in Alium lends to a down-and-dirty scene in the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

I’m often surprised by how far this music travels. The transposition of the Anglican sound world into the urban jungle of New York seemed rather miraculous the first time I walked into Saint Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue to bathe in the glories of stained glass–inflected light and English-inflected harmonies. On another occasion, I was in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, for a concert, arriving just after a school shooting in next-door Jacksonville that had made me preternaturally alert to the cultural differences between the Old and the New Worlds. But it turned out that the concert was in St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Our greenroom was the church vestry, and I felt strangely at home among the cassocks and surplices, The Oxford Book of Tudor Anthems (some nice Tallis there), and the familiar hardcovers of Hymns Ancient and Modern and The English Hymnal, the red and the green.

More here-

No comments: