In the midst of jetting around having musical adventures, I do occasionally find time to write music and practice the piano! My most recent work is a set of piano pieces inspired by the writings of Thomas Merton. I premiered it in Boston, and I’m performing it in Pittsburgh soon! Pittsburgh-area music nerd, check it out, and tell your friends! (Here’s the Facebook Event, if you do that sort of thing!)
Here are a few excerpts, and more information about the piece is below.
About A Book of Hours
In 2008, I went on retreat at an Espicopal Benedictine monastery, at the invitation of my husband, who had a long-standing interest in monastic spirituality and practice (though he lacked a calling to monastic vows, fortunately for me!). The monks follow a centuries-old practice referred to as the Liturgy of the Hours or the Divine Office, which involves praying at set times per day, chanting psalms and other sacred texts in a prescribed cycle.
After my experience with the monks’ routine, I sought out resources to continue a simplified form of their practice on my own. I discovered a prayer book called A Book of Hours” target=”_blank”>A Book of Hours, edited by Sister Kathleen Deignan. The book organizes writings of Thomas Merton, a 20th-century monk, poet and peace activist, into prayers for each day of the week at four times of day: Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Dark. I was inspired by the texts to compose a cycle of twenty-eight piano pieces, one for each day and hour.
Like the psalms chanted by the monks during their daily prayers, Merton’s writings depict a broad range of human emotion and experience, from joy to rage, humor to despair, introspection to exultation. I sought to capture those varying moods in my music. The performance includes recitation of short excerpts from the text alternating with musical responses.
I hope you enjoy it!
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