Listening to the Liturgical Year

woodwinds brass and Hyosang and part choir
Hyosang Park directs the combined choirs and a chamber ensemble at PrincetonUMC

In a NYT article, Choral Music is Slow Food for the Soul, composer Nico Muhly has wise observations about how “the choral tradition operated in a series of interlocking cycles based on the liturgical year, with the music and the musicians playing a role in a larger drama.” Rather than expecting applause, church choir singing is  “meant for worship…to be heard in a state of quiet meditation.. to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths.”

Muhly’s essay is meant to be a paean to Andrew Gant’s book O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church MusicFor me, it’s an affirmation of how — week after week, sitting in a church pew, listening to the Princeton United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir — opens up my spiritual horizons. I am also inspired by the special music offered during Holy Week.  This year Hyosang Park directs Anton Bruckner’s Requiem on Good Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m.,

As Muhly points out, live concerts of liturgical music follow the calendar.  He finds himself “looking forward to a work’s annual visits as I would the arrival of a long-distant friend.”

Other notable choral concerts of the season — the Brahms Requiem by the Voices chorale on April 8, the Princeton Theological Seminary Choir on April 22, the Bulgarian State Women’s Choir on April 17.

Choristers — and attentive listeners — will agree with Muhly, that the liturgical tradition of choral music brings  “sharp pangs of nostalgia, followed by a sense of gratitude that this tradition has been such an important part of my musical world.”

FYI: At Princeton United Methodist Church, the Chancel Choir, directed by Hyosang Park, sings at the 11 a.m. worship service. Tom Shelton directs the Youth Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on first Sundays) and the Children’s Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on second Sundays). The Handbell Choir, directed by Park, plays at both services on third Sundays, and a contemporary ensemble plays at both times on fourth Sundays. Everyone’s welcome to — just listen. 

Sexism on the Hill

Subtle sexism is so precarious because it is thought-provoking — for the targets. Management and psychology researchers Dr. Eden King and Dr. Kristen Jones have found that implicit biases can actually be more harmful than outright discrimination for several reasons, including: the higher frequency with which they occur, the lack of clear legal recourse, and the amount of time women spend analyzing these perceived slights.

A former Congressional staffer writes about sexism in the Athena Talks blog on Medium. 

This quote has interesting parallels to racism.

To be clear, this concern over sexism in the workplace was not part of my experience.

Bridgegate: Now Bordergate?

A Canadian mission team, ages 15 to 60, aiming to help rebuild homes from Superstorm Sandy was turned away at the border, according to this report.

They were to be hosted by a church whose minister, Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale of the Reformed Church of Highland Park, has been labeled “a vocal critic of Trump’s immigration orders.” (He is also the Green Party candidate for governor.)

According to the Customs and Border Patrol, they lacked the government letter needed to prove the project is needed. But mission teams have, for years, entered the United States from Canada without such documentation.

This group of teenagers and parents was told, by the immigration officials, that there was a danger that they might take away American jobs — and that there was no more need for home rebuilding resulting from Superstorm Sandy. No more need? Four years after the storm, more than 4,000 people have not recovered. Churches in New Jersey — including my own, the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey — are still working and collecting donations to get people back in their homes.

Does this seem like payback to you?

At the minimum, the United States loses tourist dollars. And trust. According to this report in The Guardian the Girl Guides of Canada have canceled all trips to the United States.

 

 

Why do the salamanders cross the road?

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I can’t say that I like salamanders but I have an affection for them. My summer job at age 13 was feeding strips of beef liver to their cousins, Mexican axolotls, in the Figge lab.

This is the season when the salamanders cross the Beekman Road in East Brunswick.  (No chicken jokes, please) And they need protection. Locals have organized to keep them being run over in the middle of the night, as described in this Packet story by Vashti Harris.

I went once, armed with a flashlight, and I did see one spotted salamander cross the road. It was exciting. What I mostly remember is the choral din of the spring peepers.

When to go? When the salamanders decide it’s time, on a warm night.spotted Here’s how to plan your trip.  Take the family but give each child a flashlight so they DON’T step on one.

Here’s what they look like — nothing like their Mexican cousins, which reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. They never develop lungs, never walk on land — they keep their gills.

Axolotl photo from Wikipedia. Spotted Salamander photo from Friends of the East Burnswick Environmental Commission.

 

 

This is called journalism: Andrea Mitchell

Joe Pompeo offers daily comment on the media in his column for Politico 

Especially apropos for International Women’s Day, he saysandrea mitchell “Let’s hear it for ‘unruly’ Andrea Mitchell.” Bold face mine.

MUST WATCH: In which Andrea Mitchell does her job by asking the Secretary of State questions because that’s what member of the press corps covering him are supposed to do, and then Bill O’Reilly’s website characterizes the scene as, “Unruly Andrea Mitchell escorted from press conf; The NBC News correspondent and MSNBC host shouts question after question at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, then seems proud as a peacock at her display.”

Alternate takes: “For the record, this is called journalism, and she did this on the Clinton campaign and during the prior administration too.” [Nick Riccardi] “1)

Ya can’t call it a “press conf” if no questions are taken 2)

We should all be as ‘unruly’ as Andrea Mitchell when public officials dodge.” [Matt Viser]

“She persisted, one might say, and on women’s day of all days” [ Maggie Haberman]

“Does anybody know if Secretary Tillerson can speak? Maybe he has some terrible disability? Good to see @mitchellreports checking on him.” [Nicholas Kristof]

This makes me wish I weren’t retired, to get a chance to be unruly again.

Book Review: Simona L. Brickers

levineSimona L. Brickers, my colleague on the board at Not in Our Town Princeton, reviewed this book by Caroline Levine. Thank you, Simona, for drawing my attention to Forms: Whole, Rhythms, Hierarchy, Networks (192 pages, $19.95, Princeton University Press).

Levine’s book is a fascinating journey through Forms, defined as the “fluid overlap of social and cultural order, patterns, and shape that open up to the “generalizable understanding of political power” (Chapter 1).  It brings together, nicely outlined, literary work by Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, Jacques Derrida, and Ralph Waldo Emerson along with many others. It weaves the literary examples into accounts of lived examples of institutionalized, systemic, freedoms and constraints that influence social collaboration and chaos.

In relating the act of punishment to rhythm, Levine highlights African music as repetitive, cyclical, polyrhythmic and dialogic and expressing pleasures that produce a participatory and embodied collective singing.  Rhythms turned out to be the repressive form used against African captives by slave masters to impose solidarity, control, and subjugations through chain gang songs (Chapter 3).

Levine’s central concern, as reflected in her title (Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network), was to present a platform to explore the phenomenon called “path dependency.”  Path dependence is learned helplessness depicted as a systematic composition that constricts diversity (race and gender) with barriers that prohibit reversal because of social and organizational cost.  The mechanism of sex is a device that produces hierarchical distinction (Chapter 4). The implicit disconnect in the various forms creates constraints and differences. Various forms overlap and intersect. They travel and influence political policies in particular historical contexts (Chapter 1). 

Nevertheless, the whole theoretical concept is misleading when it is carefully examined to reveal the social advantages that differ according to the traditional rhythms of the hierarchical color-coded network . Levine quotes Derrida’s work because the desire for bounded wholeness has grave political consequences (Chapter 2). Levine addressed the underpinning of social order, pattern, and shape by examining the dysfunction of forms. She also studied how the web translates into “literature as landmarks,” depicted as advanced transgression.  “Repetitive temporal patterns impose constraints across social life…standard repetition, durations, and arcs of development organize our experiences of everything from sleep and sex to governments and the global economy (Chapter 3).

 Levine writes brilliantly. Each word captures an essence of social order, patterns, and shapes (norms) that have become invisible, taken for granted without acknowledgement of the transhistorical or macro-environmental influences on society and the policies governing our daily routines.  The reader learns that we are not authentic — but domesticated, trained to behave, believe, and act according to a socialized outline that serves some differently than others , with no regard to how overlapping forms influence injustice.

Her masterful last chapter discusses The Wire (2002-2008),  the David Simon HBO series. This conventional cop drama exploration of the ways that social experience is structured within African American communities (Chapter 5).  The Wire rendered radically unpredictable and overlapping social forms. Levine ends the book by leading readers to contemplate the unsettled, unexpected and bewildering effects of an ideologically coherent society with power lodged in the hands of a few.  The challenge is self-reflective, aiming to push the reader to seek beyond what is controlled by a few — the societal whole, rhythms, hierarchies, and networks that influence social order, patterns, and shape individual and collective Forms.

Levine asked this question on page 18: “Which form do we wish to see governing social life, then and which forms of protect or resistance actually succeed at dismantling unjust, entrenched arrangements?”

The book is a masterpiece. It offers an opportunity to read, reread, and discuss the forms that are accepted as “unchangeable.”

Simona L. Brickers

Funding the Innovation Makers

Techies play in a high stakes intramural tournament every February at one of the state’s best – free — networking opportunities. On February 15. at Princeton Innovation Forum  (PrincetonIF) the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, they gave away $30,000 in one afternoon. All the teams were from Princeton University with Princeton profs as advisors or main participants. Sponsored by the Keller Center,  PrincetonIF focuses on commercializing technology developed at Princeton University.

Diccon Hyatt made it the cover story in this week’s issue of U.S. 1.  It reads best in hard copy, so grab one today from a newsbox before it gets replaced tomorrow. Or read it here.

With angels, venture capitalists, lawyers, and supporters watching, each team made a three-minute pitch. Then that power crowd emptied out into the crowded lobby, mobbed the wine bar, and the noise level rose as those-in-the-know and those-with-money interviewed the presenters and each other.

My favorite moment was introducing Chris Owens of Oppenheimer Nexus to Lou Wagman and Joe Montemarano (photo top right). More on that in another post.  Also (apparently I can’t control random order) are photos of second prize winner  Niraj Jha, professor of electrical engineering, who is working on Internet security; first prize winner Robert Pagels presenting his technology for manufacturing microparticles for delivering biologic drugs; Pagels and his team get their pictures taken, and U.S. 1’s Diccon Hyatt interviews Joe Montemarano.

Read the story here to learn about exciting technology and get on the Keller Center’s mailing list here. Always something exciting going on at the Equad.

 

Jay Regan: the story behind the story

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Jay Regan

A few nuggets from Richard K. Rein’s fascinating story on Jay Regan, in the new issue of the Princeton Echo:

“A young man on Wall Street became interested in the work of a mathematician who had developed  a system for beating blackjack and was using that system to pick stocks that would outperform the market average. . . . Princeton Newport Partners became the first quantitative hedge fund.”

“Google his name (James S. ‘Jay’ Regan) and the first two words that might come up are ‘racketeering charges.’

At the office on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring Street, “armed marshalls presented a search warrant to the startled receptionist. Regan first thought it was some college buddies playing a joke.”

“Even in the darkest days Regan maintained his sense of humor, even if it had a certain gallows cast to it.”

“the sentence was later overturned…. prosecutorial over-reach. The prosecutor, incidentally, was Rudolph Giuliani, even then political ambitious.”

“For all that he and his family went through, Regan remains a bright and cheerful soul, and as enthusiastic about his work as he must have been when he first got involved on Wall Street.”

My personal note to parents of liberal arts majors: Regan was a philosophy major.  

The Echo comes to the mailboxes of Princeton residents once a month and is available in newsboxes throughout town. On the cover: a story on card shark/mathematician Bradley Snider.

Photo of Jay Regan by Suzette Lucas.