Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
In November of 2013 I attended an Evensong service at Magdalen College, Oxford, with a group of friends. We got there barely before the service started and settled into what must have been the least comfortable seats in Magdalen's 15th century chapel. I was just starting to wonder whether I could really stand to sit there for the next hour when the choir processed in: college men at the back, young boys at the front.
Uncomfortable seats notwithstanding, when they started singing, everything else in the world disappeared. I was utterly transported (and I'm told my face was a sight to behold.)
What but music can do this? Music is no respecter of age, race, gender, or anything else that might divide us. It touches us all, if we let it. When I have opened myself to it, music has shown itself to have the power to erase, if only momentarily, whatever ugliness may have been my lot and give me instead a glimpse of something utterly beyond myself. It calls me to join in a dance goes on around me all the time, whether I am aware of it or not - a dance whose steps are enduring questions and bone-deep longing.
That is the dance I seek to join when I sing.
Sometimes, trying to join that invisible dance is like trying to leap into an already-turning jump rope and never finding an opening. As I engaged with the time-honored literature chosen for In the Bleak Midwinter and His Eye is on the Sparrow, I found that joining the dance was less like trying to jump into an already-turning jump rope and more like staggering up to a circle of people dancing, and being invited into the circle with open arms. The music itself; the poetry of the words, and the power and beauty of the melodies, opens a door and and invites me in. It's a beautiful world to live in once you find the door - but I think that as time goes on, fewer and fewer people find the door, and fewer still venture through it - possibly because of the sign sometimes hung on it which reads, "Classical Instrumentation Only Beyond This Point."
I don't want to lose the power of older music to connect us to those enduring questions; that bone-deep longing; that sense of finally finding expression for that which cannot be put into words. The arrangements on my albums seek - through the use of a wide range of genres and styles - to put such gems into modern settings; to take the sign off the door and make space in those ancient places for a world that aches to join the dance; to touch, through music, that which utterly transcends the self.
Here are some of my attempts to do that work. Click the album covers for more information.