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Experiencing Music – Restoring the Spiritual

Music as Well-being


June Boyce-Tillman

This book concerns an examination of the totality of the musical experience with a view to restoring the soul within it. It starts with an analysis of the strands in the landscape of contemporary spirituality. It examines the descriptors spiritual but not religious, and spiritual and religious, looking in particular at the place of faith narratives in various spiritualities. These strands are linked with the domains of the musicking experience: Materials, Expression, Construction and Values. The book sets out a model of the spiritual experience as a negotiated relationship between the musicker and the music. It looks in detail at various models of musicking drawn from music therapy, ethnomusicology, musicology and cultural studies. It examines the relationship between Christianity and music as well as examining some practical projects showing the effect of various Value systems in musicking, particularly in intercultural dialogue. It finally proposes an ecclesiology of musical events that includes both orate and literate traditions and so is supportive of inclusive community.


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Chapter Ten: Radical Musical Inclusion: An Ecclesiology of Music


Chapter Ten Radical Musical Inclusion: An Ecclesiology of Music A Story I attended a performance of John Adams’s opera The Gospel according to the other Mary:1 Can the theatre do the job of the Church? Can it, in fact, do it better? A bishop once observed mournfully how much larger were Handel’s audiences than his own. ‘Yes, Sir: because we are in earnest,’ the composer replied. The stage and the sanctuary share a common theme. Love is the central preoccupation of the com- poser, the librettist, the playwright, the performer, and of their audience too. Erotic love, whether doomed or fruitful is guaranteed to inspire and appeal. But Love is just as much at the heart of the liturgical drama, as the handful of those who still go to church attest. In the hands of Peter Sellars and John Adams, the triumphs and tragedies of this kind of love – humane, expansive, costly – are made every bit as compelling as the adventures of an Isolde, a Violetta or an Anna Nicole. (Marshall 2014 p. 30) Audience reactions varied. One person said she only came because it was religious and the music was not ‘her thing’. A man asked his companion whether perhaps she had enjoyed it just a little. I did not hear her reply. 1 Performance at the London Coliseum, English National Opera, November 27th 2014. 314 Chapter Ten Introduction This story opens up a further dialogue between the arts and religion and its use of religious subjects...

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