Monday, October 17, 2011

Strained Synapse

I'm really tired of Post-Modern deconstructionism. It's flat and tasteless; and attempting to make something of it is like chewing straw and ice cubes hoping that the flavor of steak and good Shiraz will come forth. The Po-Mo's think they are being clever and shrewdly insightful, but they have nothing to offer that brings any beauty to the life around them.

The Saint Louis Symphony performed brilliantly the other evening. Wagner's Flying Dutchman opened the program and Sibelius' Symphony No. 1 closed. While No.1 is my least favorite Sibelian symphony, it was a far cry better than the American premiere of Philippe Manoury's 30-minute violin concerto "Synapse", performed by virtuoso James Ehnes. Ehnes and the Symphony were superb in presenting the technical demand that the concerto required, but the piece itself was tedious and irritating and pushed hearer's endurance to the furthest boundary.

Hence my comment about Post Moderns. Whatever makes a Po-Mo composer think that he is producing anything of timeless value if there is no recognizable musical form to it? Music is a language that is intuitively understood, yet there was nothing in that piece that was speaking. It strained my synapses, reminding me more of traffic noise than anything else, and to date, traffic noise is not musical. If the Wright brothers had attempted to build their plane utilizing the principles displayed in the Manoury concerto, they would still have a collection of bike parts laying around on the floor, and nothing that had any hope of flying.

If they hope to have lasting significant influence, the Post Moderns need to start constructing something that points to the beautiful.

Today's Influences and Soundtrack:
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Maurice Ravel, Bolero
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Little Wing

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I have a Bucket List.
Of course, I have a Bucket List.

You recall what a Bucket List is, don't you? It is a list of things you really want to do before you "kick the bucket", before you die. My list has included seeing the Olympic Peninsula, hugging a Giant Redwood, reading a portion of the Bible on Mars Hill in Greece, hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, sipping a glass of wine in Tuscany, biking a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, seeing the Book of Kells, taking Glider flight lessons, among other things. You might not actually get to do anything on your list, but that's not the point, really. It is intended for dreams and inspiration. And in my case, I've had the rare privilege of getting to do much of what's on my list.

I first moved to St. Louis in the summer of 1988 and became immediately captivated by hot air balloons. They weren't very common in the northern suburbs of Chicago from which I hailed, so there was something richly romantic about seeing a colorful balloon in flight in the early morning. Drifting along quietly against a clear blue sky, with the warming sun against the skin, and no sound except what is carried up from the earth gave me a sense of longing, a hunger for a kind of participation in the sky that an airplane doesn't permit. And so, twenty-four years ago, a balloon flight was added to my bucket list.

This morning, that part of my list was satisfied. What a morning! It was wonderful. The flight was everything I'd hoped a balloon flight would be. The sky was clear except for some river fog, quiet (except for the occasional burst of the propane heaters which kept the air in the balloon hot) and bright. The sun was warming on the skin and gentle. There were exceptional panoramas of the region. I cannot say enough how much confidence came from the skill, experience, and expertise of Balloons Over The Rainbow. They were phenonmenal!!

In addition, I learned about air movement, flight rules governing balloons and the peculiar circumstances that proscribe a life's calling. As an experiential add-on the passengers are "conscripted" to help in getting the balloon ready for flight and putting it away after flight. A ton of fun.

It may not be anytime soon, but I hope to do this again.

Today's Influences and Soundtrack:
Michael Ward, Planet Narnia
Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales
Ralph Vaughan Williams, Organ Preludes to English Hymns
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Grateful Heart