Human Nature, you say. Is it good or evil? Innate or mutable? Varied or universal? Metaphysically connected or scientifically determined? These debates populate the purgatory of Western political philosophy. And though I don't intend to journey back through the centuries, nodding at Aristotle, Rousseau, and Locke along the way, I do wonder what to make of this divine human comedy that we call existence. In these inquiries, my solace is the belief that our questions are often more important than our answers.
Certain questions, in fact, beg never to be settled. There's grandeur in the unknown and unknowable. Insight floats in mystery. And sometimes, we are blessed with encounters that stop the thinking mind and stir a sweetness that salves all sorrow and fear. It comes from within, an ancient vibration, like a bell banishing disquiet. Some can summon this in themselves. A rare few raise it in others. Great poets strike this secret chord. They do so by conjuring music. And great composers, of course, do this too, even more directly.
When I hear Morten Lauridsen's choral composition, I sense a boundless beauty and tenderness within the nature of humankind. Here, there is no place for evil. Perhaps his music is even the wind that would bend us to be better. One can't help but feel loved and heard, generous and understood, when his music breathes its grace-filled notes upon us. Words will not do justice. The choice between experiencing awe versus reading about it holds no contest. Hear for yourself and if your bell goes off, take the time to learn more about this lovely man.
Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen is an award-winning 2012 documentary directed by Michael Stillwater, which captures well Lauridsen's essence. He is indeed a gift. Don't deny yourself this reminder of the splendor native to your most silent meadows. Watch. The film will have its Northern California Premier on June 9. Join me.