Sick of Santa Claus? Check Out Ol’ Saint Nick

Esteemed Guaguer@s, 

Saint Nicholas is the patron of the defense of young people from abuse or exploitation. 

If you’ve felt abused or exploited by the holiday season of shopping and consumption, maybe the stories of the life and ministry Saint Nicholas could be a source of relief and inspiration. 

My favorite composer, Benjamin Britten, made a lovely, queer, brilliant, yet accessible oratorio of Saint Nicholas. Britten had a heart for the common folk, just like Saint Nic’. The piece was written so it could be performed mostly by amateurs with the support of a few professionals . That’s my man Ben! I think he was as clever as any composer who ever lived, but he didn’t want to make music that showed a superiority to the common people. He wanted to make music that would uplift the common folk. Amen Ben!

New York’s own, Downtown Voices, gave an exquisite performance of the piece you can experience here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wXSm0OpYR4 

If you only have time to watch one movement, I recommend the one that starts here https://youtu.be/4wXSm0OpYR4?t=509 
It’s Nicholas emotional personal testimony of his spiritual journey. 

I want to keep advancing Britten’s mission of connecting art music to traditions and lives of the common people. That’s why I’ve been collaborating with my man Benjamin on some songs. So far, I have a spoken word/hiphop joint and a Gothic dance anthem that he has made contributions too. He’s not with us anymore, like Saint Nicholas, he’s passed on into the communion of saints, so I’m talking about sampling. 

By the end of January, I intend to reach out to the Britten/Pears foundation and other potential partners. Are there other Britten people out there who would want to support and facilitate this initiative? I’m really nervous about that. I am mostly self taught, and largely unpaid. An amateur, I do it for the love. But if Ben were still with us, I think he'd love the idea. With support to work on this project full time for a while, I really think it could become something remarkable, though perhaps strangely beautiful. If you like that idea please pester me/encourage me to follow up/give me your advice. I’m not going to share my collaborative work without official support. But I’d like it to known right now: 

Hola! Soy Marcos, a Germa-Rican, Bronx based, rapper/folklorista/church musician, and I freakin’ love the music of Benjamin Britten! 

I hope I get to share that love more soon. For now, lemee know about your experience of listening to Britten’s Saint Nicholas. 

I think Britten’s raw and soaring setting of this text offers us an experience of the heart of Saint Nicholas’ witness. In some traditions, Saint Nicholas brings gifts to children every year on his Saint Day. But the heart of the stories about him, is that he cherished the gift of every human life, especially those whose lives weren’t valued by his society, like widows and “the fatherless”. His ministry was not about presents, but being present in the ultimate reality that everything is a gift, amazing grace. Britten’s music transports me into that ultimate reality. Amazing extravagant and sometimes strangely beautiful grace: How sweet the sound!

Paz, Bendiciones and Thanks for Listening,

Marcos

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