Instructor: Mr. Nik Rodewald
Modern music is often seen as a movement away from sacred, liturgical music and towards secular, concert music. This course will challenge that idea by taking a journey through religious themes in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Music. We will explore the ‘big questions’ of modernity including the soul, human experience, God, and spirituality, all through the lens of modern and post-modern music. No knowledge of music or music history required.
Session 1: Roll Over Beethoven: The End of Romanticism and the Caricature of Ritual – In an age of industrialization, a loss of traditional religious sentiment, and a renewed interest in non-Christian religions, we’ll explore the intersection of the grotesque, violent, and spiritual in Wagner and Strauss; as well as pagan rituals, riots, and revolution in Stravinsky and beyond.
Session 2: Violence and the Sacred: The Effect of World War II - following the horrors of World War II and a bombed-out Europe, did Western humanity feel a need for a religious awakening? We will explore the music of Benjamin Britten, Gyorgi Ligeti, and Olivier Messiaen to see how God remained alive, even inside a German POW camp.
Session 3: Silence and Deep Listening: New Movements in Music and Spirituality - in this final session, we will explore the ways in which post-war composers re-imagined music as a form of prayerful contemplation. This course will cover the Eastern Spirituality of John Cage; the silence of Arvo Part and the "Holy Minimalists"; the evolution of free jazz in John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman; the "deep listening" of Pauline Oliveros; and the first opera by a female composer at the Met in more than 100 years.
Nik Rodewald serves as a Campus Minister and Theology Teacher at Marist School. When he is not ministering or teaching, Nik composes, arranges, and performs music of many genres. His work has been performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Mead Center for American Theater, as well as venues, festivals, universities, churches, and basements across the country. He has also released two albums and provided orchestrations, arrangements, and sound engineering for many more. Nik graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music, where he was the recipient of the 2014 Clare Fischer Jazz Composition Award, and also holds a MM from the Catholic University of America, where he studied in the composition studios of Dr. Robert A. Baker and Dr. Joel Friedman.