Monday, September 29, 2003

New Room

So this morning at 8 am was my first New Testament exam of the semester. I already know my grade (oh, the joys of knowing your TA personally)... it's not bad all things considered. My weekend was SO busy - I moved from my original housing situation in an on-campus apartment into my own room in a dorm here, for various reasons. Now I have a room all to myself, and my own bathroom too! It's like living in a hotel... except a little bit more ghetto. heh. But still, I'm happy. My apartment situation wasn't so great for me. This is nice. So, with everything going on in my life, I didn't have time to study until late last night. Oh, and being my lazy self, I hadn't done any of the readings assigned so far, not really, so I basically had about 400 pages of material to cover in a night. So, my grade. Not bad, but not wonderfully good either. I'll do better next time. Next time I'll get a solid A.

I'm lonely. I wish someone would call me, or come visit me, or... I don't know what I wish. I wish I didn't have so much homework. I wish I didn't suck at the violin. I wish I weren't so lazy. I wish I felt like I had friends here who liked having me around. I wish I were optimistic. hah.

I wish someone would read my blog and fall hopelessly in love with me.

I mean... errh... my other blog... the one that is charming and witty and intelligent and articulate and would make me seem like a wonderfully desirable person. Yeah.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

SarahMarie: A Life in Music

My life:

violin Bach cantus firmus Beethoven Mozart glissando Britten symphony violincello concerto Brahms Jascha Heifetz sforzando Barber Hindemith Mixolydian opus Mendelssohn-Bartholdy oboe scales voice leading Oistrakh Prokofiev Stradivari chamber music concerto grosso Galamian counterpoint Kyrie Lydian Aida clarinet Ravel dominant seventh Yo-yo Ma string quartet cadence Chopin anticipation augmented Anne-Sophie Mutter col legno Baroque vivace ritard Mischa Elman parallel fifths Sarah Chang Monteverdi La Boheme flute passing tone Schubert chord Guarneri loure Shostakovich Mahler piano quintet woodwinds fugue Liszt natural trombone strings octave Musicorda binary ternary E-flat Hilary Hahn obbligato recitative Szell Dorian modulation development diminished clarinet Wozzeck cantata Luciano Pavarotti trio Grieg Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields major homophonic Bizet neighbouring tone tonicization octave Ionian pianoforte monophonic organ choir Kreutzer diminuendo Telemann decrescendo BWV Tchaikovsky Gunther Schuller Franck octet harpsichord Christian Tetzlaff Rachmaninov K gavotte chorale B-flat andante Midori rallentando Haydn crescendo Sanctus Benedictus con desiderio e passione Serkin molto Upshaw Locatelli largo Berg sonata rondo Saint-Saens rounded binary da capo aria Schumann suite opera Marlboro Lalo Maria Callas Tafel Musik Joshua Bell Dounis BSO flat grave Dvorak vibrato presto motive minuet recapitulation hemiola minor Aeolian Evgeny Kissin Arvo Part Vivaldi moderato key signature Debussy sextet adagio mazurka inversion alto impromptu Janos Starker Boccherini f-sharp Sevcik time signature Itzhak Perlman musicology viola ensemble Horowitz vivace Toscha Seidel allegro ritardando portato overture Faure Le Nozze di Figaro Bernstein key change Wieniawski retardation Pamela Frank etude Gloria ballade soprano mode CSO tenuto staccato Argerich tenor Rode Tanglewood Barenboim Gil Shaham allemande Mass prelude pizzicato tutti sarabande Gingold Strauss semitone Rubinstein instrumentation Magnificat invention gigue Segovia Stravinsky nocturne chromatic Credo Otto Klemperer countertenor Jacqueline Du Pre Rossini fermata twelve-tone opera slur spiccato seventh chord sequence concertmaster ciaconna Paganini Vespers Gershwin repeat duet figured bass chorus Pachelbel ABA appoggiatura da gamba solo conductor caprice harmonic encore orchestration bravo Cage non-chord tone Schoenberg trumpet bouree Yehudi Menuhin suspension Schumann Rostropovich brass motet St. Matthew Passion fugato Pierre Boulez repetition Leila Josefowicz cantata Miserere Me Deus Allegri bass septet Guadagnini Bizet waltz atonal Palestrina Elgar operetta Requiem Bruckner cadential 6/4 arpeggios cadenza melody Partita Szigeti serial Mark O’Connor music of the spheres Bruch Sir Neville Marriner espressivo Crumb orchestra Dohnanyi Kreisler Edgar Meyer harmonic analysis Sibelius Ashkenazy Popper sharp tacit Mussorgsky appassionata polonaise Copland Rimsky-Korsakov Joan Sutherland portamento violin...

Friday, September 26, 2003


I have now been at Gordon College for over a month. Some statistics:

Chapels attended: 7
Violin lessons: 2
Orchestra rehearsals: 3
Sectional rehearsals: 3
Hours spent in the practice room: not enough
Hours where I was in the practice room but crying instead of practicing: 0.25
Quartet rehearsals: 4
Quartet rehearsals where we’ve actually done work: 1...maybe 2...
Rode Etude I'm working on right now: No. 2
Stupid things my New Testament prof has said: I stopped counting at 17... and that was in the first week of class.
Times I’ve gone to bed without brushing my teeth: 1
Number of CDs I’ve checked out from the library: 14
Accumulated late fees at library to date: $0.20
Hours spent on stupid music history busywork: innumerable
Hours wasted by my laziness: I don’t want to think about it
Times I’ve done laundry: 2
Days until I’ll have to do laundry again (i.e. clean pairs of underwear in my drawer): 5
Times I’ve thought about liking a guy here: zero, never, not at all. Okay, fine, maybe once.

Monday, September 22, 2003

How Great a Love

I've been thinking about life. Sometimes the reality of suffering becomes so clear and present to me that it is heartbreaking. I mean, not the kind of suffering that I've ever experienced myself... but the kind that you start to understand in glimpses through a book, or a film, or a newspaper headline, or a sponsor-a-child advertisement. The suffering of the people of Israel in Egypt, the suffering of Christians under Nero, the suffering of modern-day people in Iraq, the suffering of people in war, and in persecution, and in starvation, and in terror.

In the face of such suffering, what can one person do? It makes me think of the quote in the Lord of the Rings... 'What can men do in the face of such reckless hate?' What can we do in the face of the terrors that happened under Saddam and his sons... under Hitler... and even the everyday horrors of abortion, murder, racism, suicide, hatred, war, persecution...?

What are we to do in a world gone so terribly wrong? I was thinking about this, and I suppose the answer is pretty simple. The meaning of life... is to live. God didn't make humankind to die. He didn't make us to go hungry and to wear down and break apart and be alone and suffer and live in fear or terror... he didn't make us to die. He made us to live! In the beginning, God made man and woman to live forever. But He gave us the will to choose, and Adam and Eve chose sin and darkness and ... nothingness ... absense ... instead of good and beauty and light and everything that is real and solid and true. And we all make the same choices, over and over again... loving little reflections more than their image found in God. And when humankind turned from Him in whom we live and move and have our being, some of the privileges of life were taken away. Now all of life ended in death. And death is the opposite of the light and life that God created us for.

We were meant to live, and in the Goodness of the world God created, we were given life. But we turned from Him and now life ends. And now, in the midst of life... sorrow, and terror, and pain, and loneliness, and lost-ness. And that's why Jesus is so central to everything. He came to comfort those who mourned, to cast out fear with Love, to heal wounds, to fill loneliness, and to seek and save the lost. And most of all He came to die, and it's so amazing! The eternal Word, through whom all things were made, took on flesh. God stepped onto the stage of the great drama He was producing. The incarnation of Christ reconciled the painfully real Platonic dichotomy between the world of Being and the world of Becoming. He came and He LIVED, as man was meant to live, and then He died, as man wasn't meant to but had to... He carried the penalty of all our sins and all of the heavens and earth cried out and trembled and when it was all over, everything was made right again from an eternal perspective. "So Man, as is most just, shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die, and dying rise, and rising, with Him raise His brethren, ransomed with His own dear life." He took on Himself death and all the world's sin and wrong-ness and He transformed it to give us LIFE. The forever-and-ever-world-without-end-amen kind of life.

"This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." "See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are." "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God... if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

How good and amazing it is. God's mercy and His justice... Jesus Christ. LOVE. The love that Dante says "moves the sun and the other stars." God just made us to live... to live and to love, I think. To live for Him, and for one another... to love Him and to love one another.

Jesus Christ and the cross... it all came together. Anselm talks about it in Cur Deus Homo, and Athanasius in On the Incarnation. And they're much more eloquent, only I had to write about things anyway to help me process the issues because I'm feeling so helpless about the sufferings of the world. And yet... weeping and being heartbroken isn't the whole answer. Yes, God weeps... and we should weep with Him. But we're here to live, and to live for CHRIST. And we can't just be sorrowful, because we've got to live and love... we've got to create art, and build beautiful architecture, and sing, and dance, and make music, and read books, and explore space, and travel and see the world, and write, and smile at friends, and get married and have babies and teach them to love Jesus, and we've got to be the Church, to be God's kingdom here on earth, to go and love our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and China and New York City and wherever we're called, doing whatever we're called to do. And whatever we're called to, I just think... we've got to be warriors. To lead the culture, to make a difference... by living and loving. Am I getting redundant? I can't help it. God is big and mighty and beyond all comprehension and yet He chose to look upon our distress, us, so lowly, and to come and give us real life again.

So, in the face of suffering and tragedy... I am deciding to be joyful. You know, in the Psalms, David keeps crying out to God to come and heal his broken revive him... but did you notice, it's followed by a reason - a reason that's centered on others and not himself. He wants to be healed so he can go and love and live for God and for others. And that's what I want to do. Not focus on the times when I'm sad or lonely or insecure or anything. I'm not saying that kind of sorrow isn't real; I think it is. But it's not what God made me to live for. I think what we do in the face of apathy and hatred and sorrow everywhere is just to live the way we were made to live. And be intelligent and engaging and winsome Christians who will sneak up on the whole world and take it by surprise with our love and life that is all a reflection of Christ. I think that's what He made us for.

Oh, I know all these thoughts don't really answer all the questions about the depths of both suffering and joy in this life, and how we might reconcile them. But I'm just trying to think it all through.

Coincidentally, I came back to my computer this evening to find an IM from a friend containing a quote that sort of fit with my mindset and all that I had been thinking about tonight.

"When a man lies he murders some part of the world. These are the pale deaths men must call their lives. All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdom of salvations take me home?" ...Metalica

And sometimes I do just want to go home. Home to the new Narnia, to Aslan's country and Aslan Himself... "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this...come further up, come further in!" This is the feeling that puts an ache in my chest and a lump in my throat... It's not sorrow, but it's not joy either, at least it's not either one entirely separate from the other. It's a bittersweet feeling, when I experience beauty, or pain, or goodness, or truth, or sorrow, or any number of very *real* experiences in words, music, or just living.

Of course, the hard thing is to live well while I'm here. To really get outside myself and outside all my insecurities and just live with every single breath and every single word. I'm trying.

All these words, and I haven't really said anything profound or resolved any deep questions. But somehow, I always feel better after writing something like this.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

I Love My Teacher

I love studying with Mr. B. At every lesson, I learn so much from him - he is an amazing violinist and a brilliant man. He not only teaches me to play the violin, but he helps me realize things about myself and how I approach all of life. He makes me set high standards of diligence and excellence and stick with those standards. He encourages me to set myself the highest standards for intonation, tone quality, sound, articulation, etc., and to use my ear as judge until I achieve those standards. He helps me integrate and make connections between the various things in my life that I love and appreciate. He takes the task of getting to know me quite seriously, as an important part of his job. He balances his criticisms very well with encouragement when appropriate and deserved. He teaches because he wants to, and he invests so much in all of his students. He and his wife got involved with the music department here at Gordon a few years ago in addition to their jobs at New England Conservatory, and not because they needed the money - they wanted to be around Christians and invest in Christian students and artists. They wanted to help push the department here towards excellence. And that is an admirable thing. Mr. B. is direct and to-the-point and efficient and enthusiastic and wonderful. (He has released several recordings - one of them was nominated for a Grammy. Get them if you like classical music. He's amazing.)

I did a Google search on him, just to remind myself what a privilege it is to study with him... to remind myself to PRACTICE MORE!!! And not to take it for granted. So yesterday I spent practically my whole day in the music department. It was enjoyable, really. And I always like feeling that I've been diligent and accomplished something. Then, at the end of the day, I relaxed and watched a movie with Nicky. Yep... it was a good day.

Monday, September 8, 2003

New Testament Rant

Wow... it's been quite a while since I last posted. I'm at Gordon College now, and getting quite settled in. Today begins the second full week of classes. Mostly things are going well, I think. But I want to rant about something.

Today in New Testament class the professor mentioned in passing that the disciple John, the disciple Jesus loved, did not believe or know that the earth was round. This comment bothered me. Contrary to what most middle school history and science textbooks tell us, the overwhelming majority of intelligent people since the time of Empedocles (c. 450 B.C.) have not only believed the world to be round, but have also been able to calculate (since the time of Pythagoras) the approximate size of the earth. (Columbus was opposed on his voyage not because people believed he would "fall off" the "flat" earth, as many erroneous textbooks say, but because he was wrong about the size of the earth and people knew it. Where he believed Asia would be, he by sheer luck found N. and S. America - or he would have died at sea.) In fact, not only did the Greeks, Romans, Medievals, and early Christians not believe the earth to be flat; no one before the 1830's A.D. believed that those people believed the earth to be flat.

Around 1830, the idea was established almost contemporaneously (but entirely coincidentally - no connection between the two men) by a Frenchman and an American. One was Antoine-Jean Letronne (1787-1848), an academic with strong anti-religious prejudices. In his work "On the Cosmographical Ideas of the Church Fathers," he drew up both geography and history to misrepresent the Church fathers and their medieval successors as believing in a flat earth. The aforementioned American was the storyteller Washington Irving (1783-1859), who wrote historical fiction under the guise of history. He is responsible for inventing the image most hold today of Columbus appearing before inquisitors and theologicans at a council of Salamanca, all of whom believed (so said Irving) that the earth was flat. Yes, there was a meeting at Salamanca in 1491, shortly before Columbus embarked on his voyage, but Irving's version of this council is misleading, and more than that, entirely inaccurate.

The false accounts of Irving and Letronne became mainstream "knowledge" within the schools and textbooks as soon as the 1860s, not just as an incorrect conception of the history of Western thought, but as part of a larger falsehood - concerning the "war" between science and religion throughout Western history. This view of the separation between religion and science was invented and propagated by people such as John Draper and Andrew Dickson White, who worked to have the view circulated in texts, encyclopedias, and more... up to the present day. I believe that the reason "historians" such as these men promoted not only the specific lie about beliefs concerning the sphericity of the earth but also the general lie that religion and science are in conflict with one another is a defense of Darwinism and naturalism. Crudely stated, the argument inherent in their view would seem to be this: "See, Christians are stupid people. They interfere with science and progress in civilization. The same sects of people denying evolution and arguing with Darwinism today were denying basic facts such as the sphericity of the earth for at least a thousand years. Obviously, they were wrong about the earth... and they're just interfering with the progress of naturalism and science by arguing with Darwinism." And... it's simply not true. Throughout history the arts and sciences alike have flourished under Christendom. The entire concept of a "Dark Ages" - and thus of the "rebirth" or the "Renaissance" following - was a creation primarily of people in the 19th century. In truth, the Byzantine Empire flourished until 1450 A.D. - a culture of uninterrupted progress and development in the arts and sciences under the university of Constantinople (controlled by Christians) from about 400 A.D. until Islam sacked Constantinople in the 1450's.

The underlying issue here seems very important to me - This secular view of history has so infiltrated our anti-intellectual culture today that most Christian intellectuals have also adopted this view and then pasted Christ over it. This bothers me. And that's putting it mildly.

I'm reading a book (well, trying to, when I have time) called The Stripping of the Altars. It's about traditional religion in England from 1400-1580, and it's full of lots of interesting ideas to think about concerning the Reformation. Really, it's just adding to my questions and concerns with the Protestant, and particularly evangelical, churches in which I've grown up. I'm not sure I can really be an evangelical in good conscience anymore... but that is another topic for another rant for another time.

I'm also trying to find time to re-read the Iliad... fascinating book. I love it. I wish I had time to learn...well...just...everything about everything.

Oh yeah, and I'm practicing the violin, too. That's what I'm here for, after all. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I don't. But hopefully, it's worth it. And I love my teacher here! But sometimes all the hours of practice just seems like... too much. And there are so many other things I want to do too; learn history and literature and philosophy and theology and apologetics and everything! So how do I justify devoting myself to just one thing? But I guess we all have to do it at some point. And I love the violin, I really do. I'm starting a Beethoven sonata, a Telemann fantasy, and continuing my work on the Barber concerto. Oh... and at my lesson last week I officially graduated from Kreutzer to Rode! Words cannot express my delight and jubilation at this. Because I didn't start violin until relatively rather late in life, and because I haven't had teachers who pushed me or had the diligence and initiative to make myself do etudes and scales and such, I've been doing various Kreutzer etudes for far too long now... and I finally get to leave them all behind and start Rode! I feel so grown up.