Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Serene Alleluias of a Soul Desiring Heaven

Since this is Ascentiontide, I thought it would be an opportune time to point out this broadcast of St. Paul Sunday, which features the renowned concert musician Paul Jacobs, chair of the organ department at Juilliard. The timeliness of this hinges on the central piece of Mr. Jacobs' program, The Serene Alleluias of a Soul Desiring Heaven (Alleluias serein d'une ame qui desire le ciel) by the French composer Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992), who was a very devout Catholic. This particular movement is taken from Messiaen's Ascension suite, which is a very fine and fascinating work indeed, filled to the brim with Catholic spirituality.

Messiaen is one of the most important organist-composers who ever lived, and is one to whom Catholic musicians in particular should look for inspiration. If you don't know Messiaen's music, take the time to familiarize yourself with it.

And be sure to check out this recording from St. Paul Sunday of one of the 20th century's musical geniuses, played by a musical genius of the 21st century.

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