Wednesday 7 March 2018

Chris Returns from the TheoArtistry Presentation Event

First a few details from their own website.

TheoArtistry celebrates the practice, making, performance, curatorship, and reception of Christian art. It also seeks to inform the scholarly and public perception of the role of the arts in theology and church practice.

TheoArtistry is a new dimension in the work of ITIA, the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, based in the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews. TheoArtistry explores how ITIA’s world-leading research may impact the making and practice of the arts.

From arts festivals to art works, our collaborative projects bring together the expertise and interests of artists, theologians, and commissioners of art.


So I have just returned by plane from Edinburgh after attending the  TheoArtistry Event
Here are some of my immediate thoughts including a few suggestions for helping the problem identified by Sir James Macmillan regarding strengthening Catholic Boys Choirs voices.
I noticed in the off the cuff video I managed to call him James Stuart. That's my brain doing
Scottish pigeonholing of Scottish James's. My wife knows this stuff. I must apologise.

9.40 - "Reformation" should read "Enlightenment" ofcourse.

So What was being Presented
I was only able to attend one day of the poetry gathering which is on the heels of an event called Stanza. My real interest  for my own life was to get some more input musically.

The event was the pairing of theologians and musicians, and theologians and poetry, to tackle some serious Christian themes, and in particular portions of scripture.

Possibly the theologians saddled them with too much background information, but certainly it was thorough, and the scriptures given to each pairing concerned different Annunciations , supernatural impingements or invasions of our normal world, with Annunciations of God's Plan.

All the composers also benefitted from the wonderful mentorship of Sir James Macmillan, and the superb CD containing all 6 collaborations also contain works by Macmillan and  people who have influenced him: Britten, Leighton, and Taverner for example.

Here are a few notes as I remember.

 Each composer and each theologian shared their thinking behind each piece.
Genesis 3 is based around the three questions God asks, while ofcourse knowing the answers.
There are breathy wind sounds as the questions are being asked.

To me this definitely has echoes of Jesus asking Peter three times if Peter loved Him.
Cleverly these questions get turned and it is Jesus now on the Cross, being asked these questions.
He has all this junk put upon Him, and it is not His ofcourse. Powerful ideas and a powerful work.
Below I will leave a link to the sample and ordering page. I have the CD and think everything about it is stunning. All the new pieces are excellent and will grow on you a great deal. I bought mine early Monday and have been driving around with it for several hours in my hire car in Scotland.

 Genesis 32 is about the episode of the angel, or God or person wrestling with Jacob.
Readers of my blog will know how often I either refer to the scripture or  the songs that Suzanne Vega and I separately wrote.
In this track is an original use of whistling

 Exodus 3 refers to the Burning Bush Incident but the theologian is literally also somebody who has learned to be a fire spinner.  I went up to Kerensa to thank her personally for the superb organ writing which is done in tiers of flame images.

 This is about the call of Samuel and special mention of it being the third time the voice is heard.
This too is like my own message here on the blog.
What I am calling the thirdlevel message, is going to be the same message as it was the first time, but it's our capacity to hear God our cores

 Something of this depth of communication is the theme here in the still small voice, or silent Word sounds, that Elijah could begin to dicern after all the hullabaloo of the thunder storm and lightning had cleared away.

This passage is about the description of Solomon.
Whether the theologian thinks this was, but many of us now think there are three main protagonists in the Song of Solomon
The Shepherd or Jesus figure
The Shulammite
But also the Solomon figure who represents established religion.

Here is the Presto Classical Page where you can listen to 1 minute samples of all tracks and also purchase the CD

Finally here are my personal photos from the trip just for general interest, and yes I did treat myself to one incredible meal at The Old Golf Club Hotel

Sir James acknowledges the appreciation of his input and his compositions
The San Salvator Choir must of necessity refresh itself yearly with students newly arriving and final year students departing. This is not quite the same choir of last summer's recording.
Final applause and closer detail of the quality wood interior of the choir stalls

St Andrew's Cold North Sea

The Old Castle Ruins, St Andrews

St Andrews Old Streets by night

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