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Saturday, November 07, 2009

intro to world cultures 102: religion and music

When I moved into my ward here in Columbus one thing was made abundantly clear to me: I was a misfit in a sea of medical and dental students. I would be asked if I painted or something of the like, as that obviously had to be what I meant when I said I came here to study Arts Policy and Administration.

It was then that I decided to become a cultural liaison for these poor, overworked, scientific leaders of the future.

With that in mind, three of my new friends joined me last night at Trinity Lutheran Seminary on the southeast side of Columbus. One these friends had never heard of a seminary outside of an LDS context (early morning religious study for high school aged members). Attending a school where people were taught to be clergy was an experience in and of itself.

The Seminary Choir and Chamber Orchestra lured us there with Haydn's Mass in D Minor. It has been ages since I've attended a concert of such a classical repertoire and I was more than anxious for it. What I did not realize was that there was also a worship service bookending the Mass. Stand up, sit down, call and answering. It was all there. We even got to sing several hymns of praise with the choir and orchestra, making this wayward musician feel like she was a part of grand ensemble for a change.

The Mass was absolutely beautiful. The soprano handled the melismas exquisitely and the bass painfully reminded me that my lifelong ambition of sharing his vocal timbre will never come to fruition. The acoustics were sublime, resonating the well-honed abilities of the amateur musicians through the intimate space.

For my friends, it was the first time they had been to a Lutheran worship service of any kind. I was extremely proud of the way they participated in the impromptu service with great respect and reverence. Not everyone can do that when being exposed to a new kind of worship.

The whole event reminded me of how fortunate I was in my upbringing. Due to the nature of my family and my childhood in Detroit, it was never really an option to not know of multiple faiths and to worship with them on occasion. Though we may not all believe the same things, we show one another love and respect by worshiping together, learning of what one another holds dear. As much as I enjoyed Haydn's music last night, I think I enjoyed the overall experience even more.

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