Something to listen to: Requiem and Resurrection

Everyone knows I dig Hovhaness. If I need to feel better, he’s one of the first guys I turn to for solace, mostly because his music often possesses an ethereal quality that allows me to remove myself from the vagaries of human existence, which is necessary much more often than I ever assumed it would be when I was 10. Requiem and Resurrection certainly fits that description. Scored for brass choir and percussion, it is an episodic mix of mysterious chants and smooth temple dances and majestic chorales, all employing the mixed meters and aleatory that Hovhaness is known for. It does exactly what it needs to do, much like Mysterious Mountain, the Mount Saint Helens Symphony, and his other most popular works: dissolves your sense of time and replaces it with something like meditation. It would be nice if music like this wasn’t needed to soothe and save the soul, but thank God it’s there, because I would probably be punching furniture were it not.

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“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.”

Since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by mountains.  I remember reading books about all the ranges and peaks of the world, and I could probably still rattle off the list of the highest peaks by continent that I took great pride in knowing (much like Rosie Perez in “White Men Can’t Jump,” I am overwhelmed with more useless goddamn information than any human being on this fucking planet).  Having used to live in the Pacific Northwest, I miss having mountains around; it was nice to be able to just look through your windshield at Mt. Hood or Mt. Adams or Mt. Whatever (although I must confess that the trade of beautiful mountains for epic Midwest thunderstorms might be a push).  Most of my family still lives in Tacoma, WA, where on any reasonably clear day you can get a look at what is easily the coolest yet most uncomfortably terrifying mountain in the world, Mt. Rainier.  The Cascades have a remarkable number of gorgeous peaks.  Small wonder, then, that the Northwest would be the settling place for music’s all-time mountain lover, Alan Hovhaness.

Mt. Rainier with Tacoma, WA in the foreground

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