An Evening of Gospel Music

I love gospel music. I’m not talking about the music of the Gospel as we Mormons know it (MoTab). That stuff is nice, but I’m talking Gospel music, that rousing, exuberant, joyful noise with big harmonies and passionate soloists. It may not be traditionally reverent in the same way we think of the word in the LDS context, but I find a particular spiritual power and beauty in that sound which I rarely find in much LDS cultural music.

You can bet I was thrilled when I recently got a brochure from the Cathedral of the Madeleine, where we’ve attended Christmas Carol Services several times in the past (we find the traditional Catholic music equally as beautiful and awe-inspiring in yet another way). The first event listed was a performance by the combined choirs of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in New Orleans and the Calvary Baptist Church Choir of Salt Lake City, hosted by the Cathedral (April 15—this Sunday—at 8:00pm).

The concert is free, but is being billed as a fundraiser for the New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity. A worthy cause indeed. If anybody is interested in getting a taste of a different cultural experience and helping the ongoing rebuilding in New Orleans, come join us! With a highly regarded local choir and a choir direct from the home of the genre, it should be a fantastic performance. My wife and I love to experience varied arts, and have made sure to be there. This is why we love living right in the heart of Salt Lake City. So many new cultural experiences, concerts, artistic events, festivals, etc so conveniently accessible, particularly in the upcoming summer months. A great many of these are very moderately priced—often free. I’ll highlight some of the best as they approach.

I consider these sorts of opportunities to be the hallmark of liberalism. Liberalism, after all, celebrates diversity and differences, inviting all to share new experiences and widen your perspective. Additionally, these sorts of cultural/artistic events were simply unavailable to us when my wife and I lived in the suburbs. The suburban sprawl championed by the free-marketeers and conservatives is barren of the cultural opportunities which enrich our communities and feed our souls. The ‘burbs are starved of real living. The potential for the growth and sharing of culture is yet another reason to abandon the sprawling settlement patterns that have been spreading like weeds here in the West, and to return to the more enriching, sustainable communities promoted in New Urbanism.

8 Responses to “An Evening of Gospel Music”

  1. voiceofutah Says:

    Another gospel fan here–this sounds great!

    Voice of Utah

  2. Thom Says:

    We’d love to come, but we’re blessing Helen in sacrament meeting, which ends at 4:40. Even with the time advantage of flying west, I don’t think there’s any way we can make it. Maybe another time?

  3. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Will you be attending as well, Voice?

  4. cynthia Says:

    I am so glad that someone else loves other churches gospel hymns and music. I would love to go to that concert with you guys, 😦 I actually listen to alot of christian music on the radio and I love hearing how other religions celebrate their love for their God and Christ. We as members of the church need to gain a love more for other’s worshiping I think. Have a great time there!

  5. Bradley Ross Says:

    I love the effect Gladys Knight and others are having on the LDS music scene. As the church becomes more international, our tastes in music will surely broaden.

    I’m not convinced (okay, I’m downright skeptical) that seeking to build houses in below-sea-level New Orleans is a worthy cause. Habitat for Humanity in general, however, is a cause I can support.

    As for your statement, “these sorts of cultural/artistic events were simply unavailable to us when my wife and I lived in the suburbs,” I admit that I don’t get it. Did you not own a car or have money for bus fare? Will you be walking to this event tonight?

  6. Derek Staffanson Says:

    To answer your last question first, Bradley, we most often walk, bike, or use public transit to get to the various cultural and social events around town.

    When we lived in the suburbs, we could have driven (and occasionally did) to the various events in SLC. But then we make the trade-offs of contributing to the pollution of our world (I see from your blogs that you are skeptical about such things, but that is another topic altogether) and increasing the financial cost of the event by driving twenty miles when we want a culturally enriching experience.

    Nor does that change the fact that such experiences are simply not available in the homogeneity of the sprawl that carpets most of the Wasatch Front. Suburbanization strangles culture and tries to replace it with commercialization and largely solitary entertainment. Suburbs reduce everything to strip malls, chain stores, movie megaplexes, and home entertainment systems.

    The origin of the word “community” is from Latin, meaning “fellowship,” or interaction between people. Can a city truly claim to be a community if you have to go somewhere else to experience meaningful social or cultural interaction?

  7. Bradley Ross Says:

    “I see from your blogs that you are skeptical about such things, but that is another topic altogether”

    You’ve misunderstood me. I am not skeptical about pollution from cars. I agree that lots of cars add up to lots of pollution which makes for unhealthy air in our cities. I am not aware of anyone who doubts that cars make pollution.

    I am skeptical that mankind is playing a large role in the current warming of our planet. I believe (as you, a fellow Mormon probably also believe) that God has given us a commandment to take care of the earth and treat her well. I believe I have a good record of taking care of the environment, but I don’t go in for alarmism that, if acted upon, will hurt our brothers and sisters in poorer countries around the globe.

    But that is, as you say, a discussion for another time. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the concert. Isn’t that cathedral absolutely beautiful? I’ve only been in there once for a Bach concert. I’d love to attend something there again in the future.

  8. Derek Staffanson Says:

    The concert was fantastic. The acoustics of the Cathedral, while perfect for traditional Catholic music, weren’t quite right for this sort of choir, and the sound was a little less clear than I would have liked. But it was beautiful nonetheless.

    Bradley, I appreciate that you feel it is important to be a good steward of this planet, as the Gospel enjoins us to be. But if you do not believe that pollution has not only immediate, local repercussions, but cumulatively also also long-term, global repercussions (such as global warming), then we have very differing understandings of pollution.

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