Sunday, 19 July 2009

Canine Quakers

As part of his ongoing investigation into Christian spirituality, Lord Bassington-Bassington recently attended a worship service by the Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers.

While many fine humans have been attracted by the Friends’ intriguing blend of spirituality and social action, His Lordship was a bit surprised to find that two upstanding members of the Basset community, Embla and Ida, are Quakers.

The worship style used by Norwegian Quakers tends to be of the unprogrammed kind, and has no formal liturgy. It is conducted in silence, a silence that is only broken when one of the congregation feels moved by the Holy Spirit to say something. At the service attended by Lord Bassington-Bassington, 50 minutes passed in total silence, a silence framed in a lovely veil of summer rain.

While such prolonged periods of silence can be challenging for many humans, this form of meditative worship is ideally suited to the temperament of the Basset, as clearly demonstrated by Embla and Ida, who are here seen in deep contemplation of the mysteries of the divine.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Crash Course in Opera

Opera is a much maligned form of music these days, which makes Lord Bassington-Bassington feel obliged to come to its defense. For even if many people find opera noisy and tedious, these works of art contain much that will strengthen the moral fibre in their audience, as demonstrated by this information film.

However, opera is not just threatened by a lack of interest from prospective audience members or the philistines in the press. There are also forces at work within the opera community that threaten to drag the whole thing into the dirt, as the American periodical City Journal has uncovered.

While few operas of any substance are written today, lost and forgotten operas by the masters of the art are uncovered on a regular basis. Here, that scholar of Mozart, Mr. Victor Borge, has located one such lost opera and is introducing it to the world.

If Mozart is too challenging for you, perhaps you could go for some light opera, like that of Richard “Dicky” Wagner, king of the musical understatement. Here, Anna Russel gives her legendary dissertation on Wagner’s classic operetta, the short and sweet 15-minute – sorry, 15-hourRing of the Nibelung.