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Invited Lectures
Dowling Long, Siobhan
2019
January
An Exploration of Biblical Pathos Through Musical Interpreation
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The presentation explored the theme of pathos in Psalm 139, Psalm 137, and 2 Sam. 18:33 as interpreted by composers and musicians. It began with a performance of the Introit for Easter Day (Resurrexi) based on Psalm 139: 5, 6, 1-2 by the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Notre-Dame de Fontgombault. It illustrated how this setting, which has been interpreted since the ninth century to refer to Christ’s awakening at his resurrection, reflects not the joyfulness of the resurrection but rather the suffering of Christ through its mournful setting in Mode 4. The second excerpt On Willows and Birches (A Concerto for Harp and Orchestra) (2009) by John Williams, based on a setting of Psalm 137, illustrated the lament of the Israelite people though the music of their harps which hung upon the willows and which refused to remain silent as the wind wafted through their strings. The final piece of music focused on David’s lament for Absalom (2 Sam. 18:33) thorough Eric Whitacre’s poignant work ‘When David Heard’ (1999). The presentation argued that music, above any other artistic medium, has the power to open up the biblical text in ways that touch the heart beyond any need for words.
Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge
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