|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.
The Numinosum Blog
I first heard J.S. Bach's cantata Ich habe genug BWV 82 in the hauntingly beautiful version sung by mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on her much praised 2003 Nonesuch recording. The German title, which translates as "I have enough," is a sublime spiritual expression about fulfillment and acceptance of the life waiting beyond the living.
I first heard Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free" sung by Aretha Franklin on the end credits of the great Spike Lee movie Malcolm X and later found the original on Hathaway's last studio album, Extensions of a Man.
Whereas the words and music of the Bach and Hathaway reflect a faith in salvation in the hereafter, my Miserere does not seek any kind of religious statement or connotations. While most Miserere's in music come as a setting of the 51st (or 50th) Psalm ("Miserere mei, Deus", translated as "Have mercy on me, O God"), I am using miserere in one of its other non-religious meanings: as a vocal lament. In ancient Greek drama and later in operas, the lament was a moment of focused expressive intensity in the overall formal structure of the drama or opera.
Taking inspiration from the Bach, my original lyrics open with "I have had enough" and continue to expresses a weary frustration and doubt in the ability to solve or come to terms with the many struggles and problems facing us. Although like the Hathaway song, with its optimism that someday will come, I do convey a muted sense of earthly hope in the face of a seemingly increased hopelessness; and perhaps it is by that hope in hopelessness and doubt, that we will "emerge from all the suffering that still binds [us] to the world."
Miserere is one part of a larger, as of now untitled, mixed music composition that will be recorded next year.
Monday March 21, 2011 9 PM to 11 PM
$10 suggested donation
837 Union Street
Take the M, R Train to Union Street
Check back as I'll post some more crib notes about the compositions we'll be performing.
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 11:10 AM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.