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

By Thomas V. Mirus ( 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.

Contents

[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

Links

Purchase The Butterfly

Physical copies https://markchristopherbrandt.com/the-butterfly---store.html

iTunes https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-butterfly/1488059624

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Butterfly-Mark-Christopher-Brandt/dp/B081K8Y1C7

Purchase the score and/or parts https://markchristopherbrandt.com/the-butterfly-scores-and-parts.html

Previous interviews with Mark

Episode 33: Structure and Freedom in Music and in Christ https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/episode-33-structure-and-freedom-in-music-and-in-christ-mark-christopher-brandt/

The Nightingale https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/uncaging-nightingale-mark-christopher-brandt-interview/

Other resources

Mark’s website https://www.markchristopherbrandt.com/

Mark’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA0Qk_D2aaELp23GYb9xocg

Manassas String Quartet https://www.manassasquartet.com/

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus.

Thomas V. Mirus is a pianist living in New York City. He is the director of audio media for CatholicCulture.org and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

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