Thursday, 27 February 2014

Beauty in Education

I realise this might sound like special pleading because one of them mentions my talk in Oxford on Saturday but Stratford Caldecott has a particularly interesting set of posts on his Beauty in Education blog at the moment. The article on Education and Evangelization (with the full version here) is especially good. I hadn't come across this G K Chesterton line before, for a start: 

“Is ditchwater dull? Naturalists with microscopes have told me that it teems with quiet fun.” 


Wednesday, 26 February 2014


While I'm on the topic of Radio 3, I thought I'd mention this week's series of programmes about Forgiveness. On Friday it will be the turn of Catholic poet Michael Symmons Roberts.

And if you need more reasons to listen to Radio 3 (or equivalent Classical Music stations in other countries), just listen out for the number of references to the Mass, the Stabat Mater, the  Salve Regina ... in short, to core elements of the Faith that are simply absent from most people's lives. It's not the only reason to listen to Radio 3, of course, but Catholicism does still have a formidable presence in Classical Music

Sunday, 23 February 2014

El Sistema

There was an interesting discussion about Venezuela during BBC Radio 3's Music Matters programme yesterday. Since this blog deals neither with politics nor with music (for the most part), I'll steer clear of most of the details but the discussion of El Sistema (which has brought us Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra) reminded me of this article by James MacMillan about El Sistema's Catholic roots. You can hear Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, speaking about some of his beliefs here.

The programme also addressed the issue of Richard Strauss's links with the Nazi regime by talking to Christoph von Dohnanyi, one of Strauss's great interpreters, who came from a solidly anti-Nazi family. It raised some hugely important questions which von Dohnanyi dealt with movingly, though there is undoubtedly more to be said. What are we to make, for instance, of Strauss's Alpine Symphony, which he considered naming Der Antichrist? Ideology matters in music as well as in literature but maybe a composer's (or an author's) ideology can be trumped by the audience's (or reader's).  

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Claude McKay

According to the Poetry Foundation's useful website, the poet and novelist Claude McKay "continues to be associated with the phenomenon known as the Harlem Renaissance, though he lived outside of the country for much of the period, and has found new audiences among readers of commonwealth literature and gay and lesbian literature."

He should also find new audiences among readers of Catholic literature because, as this article shows, McKay ultimately left behind communism, Islam and other interests and became a committed Catholic. You can read some of his poems, including some of his late Catholic poems, here.