Ep. 68—What I Learned From Making Music With Mark Christopher Brandt
New York based pianist, Thomas Mirus recently had the privilege of playing piano on the latest album by Catholic composer Mark Christopher Brandt. The Butterfly consists of a suite for string quartet and piano, plus two solo piano pieces. The suite, which uses the butterfly’s transformation as an allegory of conversion, was described by the Catholic poet Dana Gioia as “fresh, inventive and alive”.
In this episode you will hear the beautiful Butterfly suite in full, followed by a no less beautiful conversation in which Thomas shares what he learned from Mark during this project, and Mark (as always) shares much wisdom about music and the Christian life, peppered with examples from his journey in both.
Central to the conversation about music is the continuum of artists throughout history, and the deeper continuum for Christian artists: that our work transcends history because our first audience is the heavenly court, regardless of what welcome our art finds in this world.
[2:51] Accompanying text to The Butterfly
[4:38] The Butterfly suite
[21:09] Why Mark wanted another pianist (Thomas) to play on this project
[23:22] Granting the string players more room for individual creativity than is usual in the classical world
[28:06] What Mark taught Thomas in the studio: making a mistake is not a sin
[36:54] Benefits of documenting the results of one’s practice in order to move forward
[41:59] The timeline of the album, spanning decades of Mark’s journey as a composer
[47:09] The historical ‘continuum’ of music and being a part of its progress
[52:38] Mark’s counsel for those beginning to study composition
[1:02:41] Contemporary pop has lost its connection to what came before it
[1:07:17] Christians who are joyful are misunderstood as being naive
[1:12:52] When Mark first became aware of how following Jesus was transforming him
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Violist, Jennifer Bockstege and cellist, Katherine Colburn working out pre-recording details with Mark at the Prince William String Academy, Manassas, Virginia.