I am not a huge classical music aficionado like my husband Bill. I like and appreciate what he plays, but aside from CDs of opera arias I rarely buy any classical music myself. I like stories -- my favorite music is folk ballads, and in pop music I'm a sucker for songs like Ode to Billie Joe. Operas are the story music of the classical world, which is probably why they're the ones I listen to and buy, on my own without Bill.
But last night I cried at a classical music concert. Composer and pianist Eric Genuis and violinist Eric Wuest played 10 pieces of Genuis' composition. They were achingly beautiful, like listening to Mozart and Beethoven and those guys, yet distinctly contemporary.
Here's a nice rundown on Genuis from his web site:
Since the age of seven when he played his first tentative notes, music has been more than simple entertainment to Eric Genuis. Years of dedication brought first class performance honors and success in international piano competition and as the young composer matured, he brought to life in words and music his other great passion, the Catholic Faith. From the serene and reflective moods of albums like No Greater Love and Truth Never Changes to the classically influenced instrumental collection Eternity, this gifted young songsmith has crafted a distinctive sound that ranges from majestic to meditative and can be appreciated by all audiences.The audience started out polite as usual, but as the night wore on became increasingly appreciative. The standing ovation the two musicians received at the end was from the heart.
Genuis spoke on and off between pieces. At the end of the next to the last piece, he gave a rather stirring speech about music, beauty and transcendence. He said we should take our children and our grandchildren to hear good music, we should introduce them to instruments, don't let them hear nothing but Britney Spears. He said how lucky we were to live in a university town, where free concerts were regularly performed. His plea reminded me of other Catholic artists who are consciously creating art that is counter-cultural, if you will, to the materialistic, post-modern, nihilistic, bleak artistic landscape that still dominates in the US.
Things continue to look up. Pray for a Catholic literary revival, Debra Murphy has been saying over at Idyllist Press. Pray for a Catholic revival in all of the arts. The incarnational imagination of Catholicism just may keep us through the cultural darkness of our own day. We are recovering from the double punch of the sexual revolution and the chaos that followed the Second Vatican Council *. Let's start making beautiful art that transcends the times again, as of old. Eric Genuis is doing that. Debra Murphy is doing that. Pavel Chichikov is doing it, Emily Snyder is doing is, Barbara Nicolosi is trying like heck to help people do it in Hollywood. Hurrah!
Go see Eric Genuis if you have a chance. I've never seen a post-concert audience like the one I saw last night. People just hung around in the foyer laughing and talking, and yes buying CDs. It was amazing.
* (I am NOT a Vatican II basher, by the way. I love Vatican II. Its documents excited me when I read them when I was a teenager, before I left the Church for my own period of atheism and nihilism. When I returned, and the implementation of Vatican II was causing violent liturgical, political and social inter-necine wars among Catholics, I read its documents again. And I loved them again.)