Art for secularism's sake.

Author:Parry, Sue
Position:Letters - Letter to the editor
 
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Daniel Thomas Moran's article "The Arts for Humanists" (M/A 2017) resonated with me. I'm a dedicated choral singer, and most of what we sing is religious music because that's where the Western choral singing tradition began. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, and others produced sublime religious music that grew out of the milieu they lived in. In Bach's case particularly, religion was a deep part of who he was as a person. Producing church music was also his job; churches were the ones paying for it.

Now our culture is much less pervasively religious, funding for the arts is much more diverse, and there are plenty of community choruses that are unattached to any church. So why do composers, unlike other artists, keep churning out religious pieces? Sure, the texts are familiar, readily available, and not under copyright, but there is so much secular poetry that would make gorgeous choral music (Look, for instance, at what Vaughn Williams did with the civil war poetry of Walt Whitman.)

I, and many other singers, want those who have the means to commission new compositions to step up and request secular works. I want composers to stretch...

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