Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Ep. 68—What I Learned From Making Music With Mark Christopher Brandt

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 28, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

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Thomas 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


Purchase The Butterfly

Physical copies



Purchase the score and/or parts

Previous interviews with Mark

Episode 33: Structure and Freedom in Music and in Christ

Episode 0 —The Nightingale

Other resources

Mark’s website

Manassas String Quartet

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

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