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22.11.09

In Brief: And Music's Power Obey! Edition

Here is your regular Sunday selection of links to good things in Blogville and Beyond.
  • Today being the Feast of St. Cecilia, it is time for musicians to give thanks. Take a listen to this performance of Handel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, from November 22, 1739. The chorus sings the following lines from the poem by John Dryden: "From harmony, from heavenly harmony, / This universal frame began. / Through all the compass of the notes it ran, / The diapason closing full in man." [YouTube]

  • One of the things that neurologist Oliver Sacks explored in his must-read book Musicophilia was just how important music is to most brains. There is more proof of that in scientific findings about the benefit of music therapy to recovering brain function in patients with Alzheimer's or recovering from strokes or other types of brain damage. This is something that any musician who has volunteered time playing or singing for patients in nursing homes needs no proof of to accept. I have seen the first few bars of music hitting someone's ears have an effect similar to that of a burst of oxygen on an asphyxiating person. [Wall Street Journal]

  • "Arrive sober, stay awake, stay to the end and don't take a bribe unless it is big enough to allow you to retire in comfort for the rest of your life." Wait -- you mean a critic is supposed to follow ALL of those rules when reviewing? [The Guardian]

  • It makes me happy when classical music gets a mention in something like "Overheard in D.C." Something funny heard at Joshua Bell's concert with the NSO. [DCist]

  • Some excellent thoughts from David Auerbach on Mes petites amoureuses, a film by Jean Eustache. [Waggish]

  • Andrew Lindemann's review of a concert I wished I could have heard, Malcolm Bilson's recital at the Strathmore Mansion. [DMV Classical]

  • Pope Benedict XVI gathered 250 artists together for a meeting in the Sistine Chapel, to observe anniversaries of previous popes' messages to artists and speak to them, with the work of Michelangelo, Perugino, Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and others all around him: "Indeed, an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy "shock", it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum – it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it "reawakens" him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: 'Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here'." [Whispers in the Loggia]

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