Iona Calls it Quits

Around the time I turned 40, I was despairing of being able to find truly satisfying contemporary music to listen to. I had been listening to (mostly) rock for three decades, and was finding both new and old rock music increasingly unbearable, both musically and, especially, lyrically. Sometime during the autumn of 2000, I stumbled across an interview with Rick Wakeman where he was asked what his favorite Christian band was. He answered that his favorite band at that point, without qualification, was Iona. I thought that was a pretty good recommendation,...

The Fish, Out of Matter: R.I.P.

Yes bassist Chris Squire passed away last night at age 67. I don’t usually pay too much attention to what goes on in the entertainment world, as I don’t have much personal investment in it, and never really have. But there have been some exceptions to that. Chris Squire would be pretty close to the top of that exception list. Squire had noted on Facepalm® last month that he had fallen victim to a brutal disease, so today’s news was not entirely surprising, but it was disturbing nonetheless, and I’m feeling as if I lost a friend. That’s a silly sentiment,...

Iona Rocks Lowell!

My wife & I saw Iona in concert yesterday at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, and the band was just fabulous. We were fortunate enough to have ordered tickets early enough to have landed front-row seats, and were sitting just toward the center of the stage from new piper Martin Nolan. I’ve been following this band for twelve years, and this is the first time I’ve had a chance to see them, as this is apparently the only time they’ve ever been in this area. I hope they come back soon, as the show was simply fabulous. Excepting a brief tuning problem at ...

Raphael’s Journey

Music loving Pro-lifers might want to check out the latest solo album from Iona’s Joanne Hogg, entitled Raphael’s Journey. For those not familiar with Ms. Hogg, she is an angelic-voiced Irish beauty who has been the lead vocalist for the Contemporary Christian band Iona since its inception in 1989. Iona falls into more or less the same genre as bands like Clannad or Eden’s Bridge: playing ethereal, Irish-flavored pop, mixing traditional instruments and themes into the standard rock band ensemble. But when Iona rocks, which is not infrequent, they rock wi...

Celebrating Christ’s Redemption and Immortality?

Quote of the Day for Saturday, December 4th, 2010: Handel and Haydn Society Artistic Director Harry Christophers, from the Conductor’s Notes in the program for this season’s performance of Handel’s Messiah: When listening to our performance, take note of [librettist Charles] Jennens’ amazing contribution. We need only look back to mediaeval carols where texts take us from Christ’s nativity through to his crucifixion and resurrection but Jennens takes us further – his is a unique journey which takes us from prophecies of Christ’s coming through the Nativ...

A Topographic Easter Tradition

Staying on my theme of music I listen to on the holy days… I have an Easter morning musical tradition that stretches back a lot further than the 10 years or so I’ve been listening to Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony on Good Friday. I don’t remember when I started listening to Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans on Easter morning, but it goes well back into my murky pseudo-Christian (proto-Christian?) past, into those pre-Church days when I thought that Christianity was something you believed – maybe even something ontologically ...

Good Friday: The Other Mothers’ Day

As has been my custom for several years, I listened to Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) this afternoon, before attending the Good Friday liturgy. This is a remarkable work that never fails to move me. I don’t listen to it very often during the rest of the year, but it has become a Good Friday staple for me. Though Gorecki himself insists that the work has much broader meaning (no doubt), it is difficult for me to listen to it without being overwhelmed by thoughts of the insane brutality of the Nazi death camps in ...

A Good Hymn is Hard to Find

The parish Lenten Mission began tonight, and I got to the church a minute or so late for the start. The congregation was singing the opening hymn – what it was I have blessedly forgotten, but it was one of those carnival tunes of fairly recent vintage that we used to sing fairly regularly, not too long ago. As I ducked into a pew near the back, I was met by the distinct aroma of moth balls. The presider was a retired bishop, who seemed to give a very thoughtful reflection (I had trouble hearing a lot of it), but the music we used all night was awfu...