On a Sunday in April, the community is invited to the first of a two-part series exploring the place of music in worship across faith traditions. Rev. Dr. William Danaher, Rector of Christ Church Cranbrook will moderate a panel discussion and introduce musical presentations on music in the Abrahamic faiths.
Presentations will begin with a sacred wave gong immersion by Christopher Davis a natural healing arts practitioner, whose specialties include using sound therapy and energy medicine for spiritual, mental, emotional and physical healing. This will be followed by organ and Christian music with Christopher Wells.
Hazzan Steve Klaper, spiritual storyteller, minstrel and Jewish teach, is an ordained Cantor and professional musician, and co-founder and director of the Song and Spirit Institute for Peace in Berkley. His presentation will demonstrate the historical and biblical progression of Jewish music, accompanying himself on guitar, drum, and shofar (ram’s horn).
“The earliest Jewish conception of music is God speaking/chanting the world into existence in the first chapter of Genesis,” says Klaper. “From there, the early primal use of ram’s horn and chant gives way to Temple music, then early liturgical modes, the chanting of Torah.”
Klaper’s presentation will cover early mystical use of melody to alter time and space, which, he says, gave rise to chassidic meditative chant — then the divergent paths of Sephardi music and the European cantors of the 18th and 19th centuries. He will end with the modern liberal (American) experiment of melding Jewish liturgical forms with western folk music.
Among some of the nations of the Orient, music and harmony were not approved of, but according to Abdu’l-Baha, son of Baha’i founder Bahá’u’lláh, “the Manifested Light, Bahá’u’lláh, in this glorious period has revealed in Holy Tablets that singing and music are the spiritual food of the hearts and souls. In this dispensation, music is one of the arts that is highly approved and is considered to be the cause of the exaltation of sad and desponding hearts.”
“I believe that all music reaches its truest form when honored as the expression of the spirit, and as a powerful means by which we come together as one human family,” says Bob Schneeweis, our Baha’i presenter, who is a teacher and performer of both jazz and classical music in the Detroit metro area, and currently a Masters student at Oakland University in piano performance.
Qawwali is the musical traditions of India and Pakistan and will be demonstrated by Seven8Six, the first American Muslim boyband. Seven8Six performs Islamically inspired music in various genres including English pop, Arabic nasheed, and Urdu qawwali music. They have been celebrated for breaking down barriers and stereotypes, and inspiring Muslim youth to define their own identity and express their faith through the arts.
According to Zafar Razzacki, of Seven8Six, “Islamic devotional music is widespread on the Indian subcontinent. The popular qawwali commonly found in this region arose from practices of Islamic mystics, or Sufis. It arose from the fusion of Persian and Indian musical traditions dating back to the 13th century. Just as Detroit is referred to as Motown and said to birthplace of R&B music, the Punjab province of Pakistan is said to be the central hub of qawwali where it has been developed into the mainstream art form that it is today.”
With its elegant thought and poetic expression, qawwali is typically sung passionately and powerfully in either Urdu or Punjabi language. As with most Islamic music, qawwali is commonly sung in praise of God and in remembrance of the Prophet Muhammad and other important historical figures of Islam. Whereas most musical groups are referred to as a “band” a group of qawwali performers is called a “party.” A qawwali party could be considered analogous to a Gospel Church choir, inspiring and motivating its witnesses with its powerful sound and sophisticated language.
Following the Qawwali performance, University of Michigan history professor Rudolph Ware will discuss Islamic devotional music. Professor Ware specializes in premodern West African history, Islam, popular religious culture, and race, and is the author of The Walking Qur’an Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa.
Sounds of the Spirit – Abrahamic Faiths will take place on Sunday, April 30th- 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Cost $10 per person. Light Refreshments Available. The program will take place at Christ Church Cranbrook 470 Church Road, Bloomfield Hills MI 48304. Register here or at the door.
Save the Date for part two of this series, “Sounds of the Spirit- the Dharmic Faiths” Sunday, May 21st, 3:00 – 6:00pm. Mata Tripta Ji Gurdwara Sahib: 40600 Schoolcraft Road, Plymouth.