The book I’m in the middle of right now is called 20/20: 20 New Sounds of the 20th Century, by William Duckworth. It’s a book about classical music of the 20th C., including composers like Aaron Copland, John Cage, Arnold Schoenberg, Laurie Anderson, and Philip Glass. Very readable book, by the way, and it comes with a CD.
It has a great quote by Meredith Monk:
I’ve always loved medieval music. I love music through Bach and then [I] go to the twentieth century.
Me, too. I know it’s heresy, but I could easily live without Beethoven or Mozart. At one church I served, I worked with a music director who felt the same way. Sure, he played the usual Mozart-Beethoven-Brahms stuff, but he’s slip in some Gershwin, some jazz, Erik Satie, John Cage — once he played Cage’s “4′ 33”” as the prelude to a worship service. It was one of the most memorable performances of music at any church service I’ve ever been to. (If you don’t know the piece, look it up on the Web…if you know where to look, you can find the complete score and good critical commentary and in addition recordings in a variety of formats with bad commentary.)
At the other end of Meredith Monk’s timeline, Lynne McCanne played Variation 22 from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” a couple of weeks ago here in Geneva. I was in heaven. Wouldn’t it be cool to do a series of each of the variations from the “Goldberg Variations” over the course of a church year? You could run it in parallel with a series of improvisations based on songs by the Ramones.
What kind of music would you like to hear in worship services?