Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where the Psalms Meet Heavy Metal

I've come to believe that even heavy metal is kind of like praying the Psalms, where you are crying out in a loud voice and moving through moments of great passion.

Those are the surprising words of renowned Chicago violinist and one-time prodigy Rachel Barton Pine. Besides being a Bach fan, Pine is a speed metal devotee. She had her dressmaker sew the logos of Led Zeppelin, Rush, ACDC, Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeath, and Slayer on her violin case. (Check out her album Stringendo: Storming the Citadel for a taste of her string interpretations of headbanging rock.)

On second thought, Pine’s comparison between the Psalmist’s cries of anger and anguish to metal music shouldn’t surprise us. Chicagoans will remember that when Pine was 20, the rising star’s violin case got caught in the doors of a Metra train. She was dragged some distance and one leg was severed by the train’s wheels.

I’m sure that both those metal bands and the Psalms connected to the emotional hell of her period of accident and recovery. I met Pine earlier this year at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel where we were both participating in a performance of Franz Joseph Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ. I offered the spoken meditation on “Into thy hands I commit my spirit,” and Pine played in the string quartet. Haydn’s music also touches the deepest moments of anguish and suffering. Violist Richard Young, who has been playing the piece for decades, told me after the performance that Pine had captured the work’s spirit perfectly.

Pine talks about her faith in God and its place in her music in a wonderful human-interest piece by Chicago religion journalist Judy Valente. The piece ran on this morning’s "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly." If you missed it, you can watch the video on their website.

The closing words belong Rachel Barton Pine:

The one thing I've learned is that the way to get through challenges is just to ask God not to change what's happening, not to make it OK, but just simply to be with me, be with me in the worst of times and to be with me in the best of times.

Related links:
Rachel Baron Pine
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
The Vermeer Quartet

1 comment:

L.L. Barkat said...

Reminds me a little of a story from my father... he believes his first real prayer was an expletive cry of anger towards God that he expressed while still an atheist, as he drove away from the reality of his failed marriage.

A kind of heavy-metal prayer, if you will.