Many, many years ago, a fellow in my college dormitory by the name of Stan Grove tried to persuade me to like the music of Arvo Part.
[Brief digression: It is customary to put an umlaut, which is like a sideways colon, over the letter “a” in Part, because this is how his name is spelled in his own language. I do not think it necessary in English, since I can write Jackie Chan without drawing whatever Chinese figure stands for Jackie’s last name. The “a”-with-umlaut is not an English character. And anyway, I don’t know how to make my blogging software do it.]
Stan and his roommate, Owen Sweeney, would gang up on me and my roommate, Joseph Susanka, to introduce us to more daring forms of tonal (or atonal!) beauty. At the time we were having none of it.
But now Stan Grove is a teacher on the faculty at Wyoming Catholic College, Owen Sweeney is the admissions director, and Joseph Susanka works in the fundraising branch, so it’s like a big reunion. And today Stan brought up the subject of Arvo Part again.
Perhaps many years in the world have given me an open mind; perhaps those many years in the world have eroded my sense of absolute truth. But whatever the case may be, I told Stan that I would buy Arvo’s setting of the passion of Christ and listen to it for Holy Week.
But I think I’ll leave the Mongolian chant alone. That was just strange.