by Steve Laube
I tried something new this year. During the 40 days prior to Easter, also known as Lent, I chose to listen to one and only one CD while driving in my car.
From March 5th to April 20th the only music playing was “Lent at Ephesus,” the #1 bestselling Classical Music album of the year. This means during that period I heard this music at least thirty times from start to finish. (Click to listen to samples from the album.)
The music itself is sacred acapella sung by the nuns of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, in Missouri. There are 27 songs in the collection, everything from original compositions to a piece from Bach’s “St. Matthew’s Passion.”
There is something special about the clarity and peacefulness in the pure vocals in a female chorus. The lofty heights of the voices and when multiple parts dance together it is like the weaving of a tapestry. I found myself waiting for the CD to cycle through to hear particular songs in their turn. The seven minute “Improperia” has a single note sung the entire song with the melody floating above it. The classic “All Glory Laud and Honor” is one that embeds its melody into your mind and replays itself throughout the day…in moments of praise and beauty.
The music isn’t for everyone. My tastes, as I unveiled last week, are rather eclectic. But this is one reason for the experiment…a discipline in some ways. To let all the other cacophony of the world with its commercials blaring or the thrumming bass countering my own heartbeat, to let that go away for a season. At the same time immersing myself in an art form.
As an agent in the literary world I can be bombarded by writers clamoring for attention. My own passion for ideas and creativity can pull me from one page to another very different page. It is good to be reminded of the power of creativity and to occasionally slow down and savor something that is unique and exquisitely executed.
Next time you find a great book, a great album, a great performance of any kind in the arts, consider stopping longer than normal and let that work wash over you like a stream of mountain water. And once refreshed, step back and say, “Now it is my turn to create.”