AJ's Listening Page, Volume 2

Here's my listening page #2! Sorry to be a week late--I haven't been listening to as much music as I should be lately. I'll try to do better next time. Oh, and in response to Mark's and Nicole's comments on my last listening page.... Since "inquiring minds want to know," okay, no, there's no way I could narrow my list of favorite songs down to just twenty. I was just trying to make a point. X&Y absolutely rocks. That's all.

In The Car

River of Worship - Live at Harvest 2/22/08 - Jeff Mercer Band
This is the CD that was recorded when we played at the Harvest singles ministry in February. (My blog post about it, in case you missed it, can be found here [under point #3]). I don't listen to this because it's a recording of me--my acoustic guitar plays a relatively minor role, especially in the fun little details I listen to and in my singing along. But I listen to it because it's just a really rockin' CD. Jeff is a great singer, pianist and worship leader, and his passion ignites the performance of all the musicians around him. I'll be listening to this CD for a long time. If you didn't check out the River of Worship Myspace page the last time I posted about it, go here, listen to the songs and leave Jeff a comment: http://www.myspace.com/riverofworshipmusic.

On The iPod

Belshazzar's Feast by William Walton
This is one of my favorite choral pieces of all time. It's an extended (36-minute) piece for mixed choir (guys and girls) and orchestra, with various texts from the Bible dealing with the Jewish exile to Babylon, Belshazzar's feast in which he sees the writing on the wall, and the fall of Babylon. I sang it in my first semester with the University Singers choir at Cal State Fullerton, under the baton of John Alexander (the link is to a Cal State Fullerton faculty info page--he's not at the school anymore but the page is still there), and the better I got to know the piece the more I liked it. It has its big loud sections about the destruction of Babylon, and its hushed a cappella sections: "How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?" Walton's word painting is excellent (including some just-not-quite-normal chords on the word "strange" in the aforementioned a cappella passage), and his use of unifying recurring motives is brilliant. There's a fun section in the middle, during the feast, where Belshazzar is saying "Praise ye the god of gold, the god of silver, the god of brass, the god of iron," etc., where the orchestra mirrors what the choir is singing--the "god of silver" is played with a silver xylophone, the "god of brass" gets a brass fanfare, etc. It's a powerful piece that leaves the listener very satisfied at its end. I'd recommend it to anyone, although some of its more adventuresome harmonies may be difficult to swallow for untrained ears. (Hmm... sorry to mix sensory metaphors there....)

Renewing Your Mind by R.C. Sproul - "God Is Love"
Okay, this isn't technically music, but it's what I listened to on my iPod last night. Renewing Your Mind is a daily radio program produced by Ligonier Ministries, the ministry of R.C. Sproul, and they have a daily podcast of the program. R.C. Sproul is a PCA minister (we went to his church when we visited Florida on the road trip), lecturer and author, and has taught classes, seminars, and conferences for way more years than I've been alive, and has written way more books than you can imagine, and he's awesome. Most of the time the Renewing Your Mind broadcasts aren't delivered in an especially dynamic, passion-charged way--because they're really lectures--but his teaching is so direct and clear that it's life-changing anyway, and his passion for teaching God's people about God's character is obvious. The episode I listened to last night was the first in a series entitled "Loved By God," and it was a lecture on 1 John 4:7-11, which contains the famous phrase "God is love." Sproul talked about the magnificence of the love of God, while also cautioning that God's love must be understood in the context of His other attributes, such as justice, sovereignty and holiness. Many people proclaim that God is a God of love to the detriment or even ignorance of His other characteristics, and Sproul did an excellent job of tempering an awesome exposition of God's love with an enlightening discussion of its relationship to His overall character. If you're interested in listening to some of Sproul's talks, go to his ministry's website, www.ligonier.org, and click on "Video" or "Audio" in the media center box. A search for "R.C. Sproul" in the iTunes store will turn up the daily podcast.

That's all for now! Look for an exciting post here in the next couple of days--another story like the story I wrote two years ago. And in the meantime comment!


Mike Morabito said...

I'm listening to River of Worship, now. Very cool.

Props on the RC Sproul factor. Excellent description about what he communicates.

Nicole said...

As usual your listening pleasures and mine differ so very much, but thanks for answering my and mark's "inquiring question" I knew there was no way there were only 20 songs :)
<3 Nicole

Darth_Harbison said...

As an untrained ear that can't swallow, I have to confess that "Belshazzar's Feast" isn't one of my favorite choral pieces, even of the few that I've really listened to (the vast majority of which I heard at your various choral recitals). I'm not sure what about it I didn't really like, but I think the overall tone just kind rubbed me the wrong way. I dunno. Maybe I'm just an uneducated layperson whose musical opinion should be completely disregarded.

Can't wait for the story!