More Joy, Less Depth

So much of today’s choral music is so Deep.

Philosophical, emotional, psychological depth is wonderful, of course. But it is only one expression of our emotional range.

I would love to hear more composers express themselves less ponderously. Many choirs seem to turn to “pops”, Spirituals, or jazz for their “lighter” fare. But I see a lack of joyous, delightful choral music from our popular contemporary choral composers.

Depth is impressive. We take depth seriously. But for comparison, consider Mozart: as I often say to my sons, you can tell Mozart because he is always smiling, even in the most sober of pieces. His music is built with joy. And much of it is light, airy, joyous.

But Mozart’s music is a quarter-millenium old. Where is the same lightness in contemporary composers?

Consider the poem Mozart For Example lovely poem from Mary Oliver’s collection ThirstIn the poem, she describes Finches:

like Mozart, they speak of nothing
but light and delight,
though it is true, the heavy blades of the world
are still pounding underneath.

I think at heart, many composers are hesitant to compose “light and delight” because they fear they won’t be taken seriously. Perhaps audiences will think they don’t sense the “heavy blades of the world.”

We all feel the heaviness. Would that there were a few more with Mozart’s gift for alchemy, to transform the heaviness into joy.