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Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is

Way back during my brief stint among the contributors to *The Conservative Philosopher*, somebody or other asked us all to tell the story of how we became conservatives. I dutifully wrote something up, but, for better or worse, got myself banished before I could post it - after taking the wrong side against our host in a slightly unpleasant contretemps over the morality of foxhunting. (No kidding!) So it was duly consigned to the vaults.

Anyway, while hunting through said vaults, today, in search of stuff in need of deletion, I came across it, once more. On the off-chance that it might afford my internet neighbors a moment's amusement (what else do we live for, after all?), here it is:

In the end, I suppose that I owe my conservatism to Andre Kostelanetz. He's almost totally forgotten, now, but when I was a kid, back in the day, he enjoyed a certain fame as a popularizer of classical music - a bit tonier than Liberace, perhaps, but not as respectable as Leopold Stokowski. Anyway, my mother had this album of his called "The Romantic Music of Rachmaninov," or something like that, consisting of orchestral arrangements of purple passages from various works by that composer. She used to play it, from time to time - and, one of those times, I found myself liking it. A lot. In fact, I liked it so much that I soon wore the record out, along with the patience of everybody else in the house, playing my favorite bits, over and over, as kids will do.

Well, one thing led to another. Soon I was plowing through the rest of my mother's modest selection of classical albums and clamoring for her to buy more. It was not lost on me that few if any of my fellow 5th grader's shared my enthusiasm for this old, boring stuff, but that did not deter me. I decided that this must prove that I was an intellectual, like Mr. Peabody on the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, or the Professor on Gilligan's Island. I began searching out the sort of stuff that I thought they might like - not just in music, but in pictures and books, too. My indulgent parents even bought me a whole collection of Reader's Digest "condensed classics for young readers" - which held me, for a while.

But then somebody told me that the greatest writer of all writers was a certain William Shakespeare, who was not included in my Reader's Digest collection. So I hurried to the library and checked out all the Shakespeare books with the neatest covers. I particularly favored the ones with pictures of Kings and Queens or guys in togas.

Needless to say, I didn't understand a word of any of them, but I liked to carry them around, and to be seen carrying them around. Every now and then I would even open one up and try to puzzle out a scene or two.

Well. All this came to a head a year later, in the sixth grade, when the music teacher announced that we would be putting on skits for a school assembly. I was thrilled. I had just managed to work out to my satisfaction most of what was going on in the first couple of acts of *Julius Caesar*. I couldn't quite figure out why the play kept going on after the hero was dead, but I loved it - up to that point.

I loved Shakespeare and I loved Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was my hero. I would play Julius Caesar. Brutus would kill me. He would kill me in the capitol. All would acclaim my historic interpretation of Caesar's death scene, which would be accompanied by...what else? The "romantic music of Rachmaninov." It would beggar description.

Well, it did. Needless to say, the performance was a fiasco - my first, and, perhaps, my greatest, prior to my much later debut in the role of an academic job seeker.

My fellow students, both on stage and in the audience, simply refused to appreciate the full grandeur of my conception. The guy in charge of the record player kept playing the wrong music, and the cast members delivered the wrong lines at the wrong time, or forgot their lines altogether and just started making stuff up. I had to keep stopping the play and telling people: "no! that's *his* line! *You're* supposed to say 'beware the Ides of March!' You're the soothsayer, and not Brutus. And Cassius isn't supposed to be over there!

Well, eventually everybody on stage got tired of being bossed about, so they all just pushed me down and poked me with their rubber knives and squirted ketchup all over me. And, to make my mortification complete, they began to dance around my prostrate form, chanting the words that I can never forget:

"Stab him in the back!
Kick him in the head!
Caesar! Caesar!
Dead, dead, dead!

I wanted to jump up and shout out: no! no! it's not my fault! It wasn't my idea! Shakespeare didn't write that!

But I was supposed to be dead - and, besides, I could never have made myself heard over the cheers of the assembly, which quite liked the chorus - or the fact that the skit was finally over, or both.

Anyway, as I lay there on stage, with the curtain coming down and Rachmaninov's immortal Prelude in C sharp minor Op 3 No 2 snap-crackle-popping over the cheap school phonograph (for the disc-jockey had finally found the right track) it dawned on me, with all the blinding luminescence of revelation, that, no matter what my social studies teacher might say, all men were not created equal. Some were better than others. To be exact, I, the unappreciated genius, was better than those unwashed Philistines on stage with me - to say nothing of that howling mob of an audience.

In retrospect, I must admit that this was not exactly the most obvious lesson for me to have learned, under the circumstances. But there it is.

Incipit Zarathustra. I was ready for Nietzsche.

Comments (45)

Oh, golly. It's been so many years (yes, I know, not _that_ many) that I'd forgotten all about the fox hunting brouhaha!

Your post makes me think about the fact that conservatives simultaneously believe in "high-brow" things and in preserving those best and great things and are in an important sense "elitist" while at the same time having a love of the ordinary man and a desire to champion him against the limousine liberals. I ought to be able to connect that to the post in a more profound way, but I'm being distracted by listening to Gershwin's "They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus."


Brilliant! I was laughing heartily. My brief foray into acting had its obligatory snafu, but it was nowhere near as spectacular as yours.

I wish I had as good a story to tell about how I became -- or, more precisely, how I discovered that I had all along been -- a conservative. Come to think of it, I guess there was one moment ... but it is not worthy to be posted on the same page with yours.

Thank you, Steve, for this wonderfully cheery story on this otherwise dark day.

Great stuff!

What happened to the Sproul Cruise post for today?

Off of your main point a bit but your comment about not understanding a word of Shakespeare reminds me of a tale my classical acting professor told me once about two of my fellow students. We were all given the task of picking a scene from any play in the folio and presenting it with a partner before the class. We had the full responsibility of the scene and in this case could not appeal to the professor for help. The scene would be performed before the entire staff of the theatre and performance department.

This one young man and woman stepped forward on their day to present their piece and began to speak in classic Elizabethan about their love for each other and then proceeded to passionately make out all over their stage before tearing themselves apart to say the last few lines of the scene. When they finished they turned to see the faculty staring at them with their mouths gaping open. My professor asked them, “What on earth possessed you to do that scene in that manner?”

The young couple assured him that they just felt like it was an opportunity to portray the passion with abandon and completely let go of their inhibitions about their personal physical space. They wanted to lose themselves in the sexual fervor of the scene.

My professor then said, “I see. And were you aware that these characters are brother and sister?”

That's awesome, Steve. No wonder you told me when we started this website that you loved my writing and thinking except for "that unfortunate weakness for popular music." You poor bastard. (Sorry, Lydia.)

Were I to attempt to compose a similar essay detailing the genesis of my conservatism, it would be incumbent upon me to mention the instinctive paleoconservatism of my father, from whom I learned to apply skepticism to the advocates of foreign interventions, among numerous other politico-philosophical predilections. Apropos of Steve's post, however, I'd have to mention my own experience with classical music and the general philistinism of the masses. I studied classical piano for over seven years, abandoning it only in junior high, under the pressure of a heavily academic regimen, a music instructor who believed me to possess the potential to go much further in the discipline - and thus demanded a minimum of two hours' practice each day, with the intimation that this was only marginally adequate - and peers who regarded the study of classical music in any form to be, well, effeminate. And nothing is more dreadful to a fourteen year-old boy than the stigma of effeminacy. So, classical piano fell by the wayside, a casualty of misguided youth and the aesthetic judgments of uncultivated peers. Of course, by the time I entered upon my undergrad years, it had dawned on me, in the presence of a somewhat more selected and refined peer group, that facility in music would have been a tremendous asset in the dating scene, as well as a considerable good in its own right; but by that time, I was already transitioning towards philosophy, and beginning the arduous process of transitioning out of Protestantism, and the reawakening of dormant abilities was not an actualizable possibility in those circumstances.

Nonetheless, early and formative experiences in studying and playing classical music left me with the ineradicable conviction that aesthetic judgment admits of a far greater degree of objectivity than most are willing to concede. When I consider the types of popular music to which my peers listened in junior high - well, if anyone would dare say that Wang Chung, Belinda Carlisle, David Lee Roth, Tears for Fears, The Cure, and countless other forgettable acts are remotely comparable to even lesser luminaries of the classical tradition, such as Edvard Grieg, let it be known that such a man is probably a nihilist. Hierarchy is.

And, yet, in spite of the above encomium for things 'conservative', the above skilled orator still manages to continue his indulgence into a cacophony of 'heavy metal'.

If Steve's is an unfortunate weakness for popular music, at the very least, in spite of its inferior quality, his is, comparatively speaking, not so atrocious.

Interestingly, some psychological research has been conducted, endeavouring to discern correlations (or more) between certain personality types and musical preferences. One of the findings is an overlap between the personality traits associated with classical music and those associated with metal.

Beyond that, however, is the fact that competently written and executed metal is at least an order of magnitude more sophisticated, in compositional terms, than the dreck aired on commercial music stations. Now, the overwhelming majority of metal is quite dreadful - truly horrific in all respects. The decent material, however, does embody a level of musicianship that one seldom finds in other rock genres, leaving aside folk, bluegrass, and other more harmonious forms.

That said, I spent the weekend listening to Mendelssohn and numerous Renaissance polyphonic composers.

Ari: The unfortunate weakness applied to me. You'll not find Steve praising Bob Dylan, for instance.

Tim - talk about waving the red flag before the bull!

"I guess there was one moment..."

Out with it, man!

Mr. Cella,

While, indeed, in my haste I may have misspoken with regards to the subject comment; my sentiments toward heavy metal remains the same.

What continues to baffle me is why wise and worldly men as Maximos would even indulge in such noise, much less call it 'music'.

Awesome story, Steve. I never had the cajones to act in a play, though some people might describe a few of my public speaking experiences later in life as drama of a sort. I'm still a wuss about it though, even today.


FWIW, I'm also something of a metalhead, though not out of a general love of the genre but more out of appreciation for certain specific instances of it, no doubt influenced by personal history. A great metal song is akin to a great fistfight, beautiful in its own way for those with the capacity to appreciate that kind of beauty. (If you were to tune into the average "metal" station on satellite radio, hours or days might pass before anything of particular interest to me plays). I even own a candy-apple-red fender stratocaster that I pretty much don't play anymore, though I know a few riffs and it pleases me endlessly just to be able to make music from vibrating wires at all. What a privilege are the aesthetic experiences of this life!

There are few musical genres from which I can take absolutely nothing of value; hip hop comes pretty close, but even there I've once in a great while appreciated a certain riff or clever turn of phrase or music. What conclusions can be drawn from this about my own tastes or qualifications on other matters I leave to the judgment of others.

I find even the notion of people like our own Steve Burton, steeped in aesthetics as an objective and even academic discipline, endlessly fascinating. He probably is not aware of how interested I am in what he has to say, but, well, I am.

I don't have an interesting story. I came up through the liberal public school system, indoctrinated with all manner of things I now consider unequivocally evil.

Tim set me on my way. Not deliberately, I don't think, but he got me thinking differently based on our numerous discussions about all manners of topics.

After college, living in a city so stoked with liberal everything sealed the deal. I've been an 'outsider' ever since.

I was raised to be very conservative, but by the time I got to graduate school I was in reaction against my fundamentalist background and was fashionably "non-political." Then came postmodernism and PC, and that turned me into a raving conservative very quickly indeed. The sheer disgusting slovenliness of postmodernism and all politicized approaches to literature and scholarship were decisive. These people just plain didn't care about doing it right but rather about being clever and having power. There was certainly no one story, but I do remember very clearly the day a fellow student chided me over using the term "black" as an analogy for natural evil in discussing the problem of evil. (We were discussing Alexander Pope.)

Jay Watts - sorry, I skipped over your comment the other day because I was terribly short for time, but that is *such* a great story. I really want to retell it elsewhere - but do you know the play and the scene? I've been racking my brains & can't come up with one that fits!

I couldn't think which Shakespeare play it was either but put that down to my own ignorance.

Jay's story reminds me of the time in graduate school when one particularly vapid young lady in a medieval lit. class told us about how she was going to write from a feminist perspective (of course) about the big differences between Morgan le Faye and the old woman in the castle in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." (As I recall, the big difference was supposed to be that Morgan is "powerful" whereas the old woman wore clothes that were too fussy and feminine.) I then pointed out the awkward fact, which she somehow hadn't gotten from the poem, that the old woman in the castle _is_ Morgan le Faye. She brushed it off and said she'd write the paper anyway.

Maximos writes:

"...if anyone would dare say that Wang Chung, Belinda Carlisle, David Lee Roth, Tears for Fears, The Cure, and countless other forgettable acts are remotely comparable to even lesser luminaries of the classical tradition, such as Edvard Grieg, let it be known that such a man is probably a nihilist. Hierarchy is."

Well, Wang Chung, Belinda Carlisle & Tears for Fears were at least harmless. And David Lee Roth, too, I suppose. The Cure I'm less sure about...

There are two or three bits of Grieg that might outlive the moon (if man outlives the moon).

aristocles - perhaps you were thinking of my brief reference to Metallica, the other day, after somebody or other claimed that Roger Scruton, no less, had suggested that some of their stuff deserved serious consideration?

If so, I plead guilty. For example, "Until it sleeps"...


...just isn't you're run-of-the-mill heavy-metal rant.

OK, Zippy, I want details.

I was dragged, several years ago, by very good friends, much against my will, into admitting that Metallica was capable of producing a song of genuine musical competence & emotional power.

But (ugh!) who else?

I always joked, utterly without originality, I suppose, that the only thing The Cure "cured" was the life instinct, the will to continue living, their music being a clear prolepsis of "emo" culture - the culture of the self-cutters. David Lee Roth was terminally silly and self-important, a caricature of the stereotype of the hair-metaller or c**k-rocker. Belinda Carlisle was precisely what the average junior-high student wanted to hear, namely, that all those swelling, turbulent infatuations of youth were a veritable heaven, when in reality they were mostly hormones and lust. I can't really think of anything bad to say about Tears for Fears; they were emblematic of the times, at least a more serious side of pop than David Lee Roth. Nothing terribly transgressive in this group; nothing terribly meritorious.

But I'd still take even the weaker passages of the Lyric Pieces over whole reams of pop.

But (ugh!) who else?

My list includes Dragonforce, Within Temptation and Nightwish. Not sure what Zippy's might contain. And musically (not lyrically), System of a Down consistently amazes me.

Lydia - "the old woman in the castle _is_ Morgan le Faye"...

...even better!

But (ugh!) who else?
Metallica has a few good songs, though the bulk of the corpus I find unlistenable. Hero of the Day is one I like, Whiskey in the Jar (a centuries-old Irish drinking song, rockified by Thin Lizzie and then covered by Metallica) is kind of raucously fun, and I even like the version of One they did with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra.

The metal band I'm closest to being an actual fan of is Iron Maiden (with Bruce Dickenson only -- not fond of the other guy). That is in spite of, not because of, the atrociously cheesy album art. Iron Maiden does harmony and other interesting things with guitars that make for a pretty distinctive sound. Can I Play With Madness has some neat melody and chord changes; Hallowed Be Thy Name captures the frantic despair and denial of a condemned man pretty interestingly. Revelations opens with a Chesterton verse, so if Bob Dylan is W4's official musical poet, given Paul's and Frank's admiration and my own distant personal family history connection through my cousin, then Maiden ought to be the official metal band. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the Coleridge poem set to the Maiden sound, though truth be told it runs a bit too long and monotonously. They have a song on the Charge of the Light Brigade (The Trooper), and another on the Battle of Britian (Aces High); those probably aren't as musically interesting as for example Can I Play With Madness, but they are still fun. I can probably listen to fully a third of the existent Iron Maiden canon without becoming annoyed or bored, though there are pretty large gaps of time and sequences of albums that I don't know well at all.

Even a few of the wussy 80's hair bands had a song here and there that I like. (I won't say "that is worth listening to", because my connection to the genre is helplessly tainted by nostalgia and self-indulgence; I make no pretense to an objective evaluation). The Gods of War by Def Leppard is one; Reach For the Sky by Firehouse is a fun tune to play in the headsets when a passenger is getting his first small airplane ride; it really cranks up the atmosphere, well, at least for the right passenger.

That's off the top of my head, anyway. I'm more of a forty-something ex metalhead than a current metalhead, but I still appreciate it as much as a well executed fistfight.

As I Lay Dying, Underoath, and Norma Jean are three amazing (in my humble opinion) contemporary metal bands. They also have strong Christian influences (along with wonderful musical and lyrical talent).

I agree with Maximos. A 40-something former huge rock fan, in the last five or six years I've done a 180 and I now listen to classical music about 90% of the time. Faves include Bruckner, Palestrina, Vaughan Williams, and the contemporary composers Arvo Part and Peteris Vasks. (To describe how big of a rock fan I was, I'll say that I've traded off or sold a fair portion of my rock CDs in the past five years, and still have about 400 left). I found that listening to classical music regularly actually changes one's taste, and that what I used to think was so profound in pop/rock sounds fairly banal now.

There are exceptions of course (Cocteau Twins, Lloyd Cole, Blue Aeroplanes, and some others still show up in my CD player regularly) and I still listen to some old stuff that has sentimental value related to my youth (mostly 80s new wave and 'post punk'), but the only current band that I really give a damn about is Sigur Ros. It's rare to find real beauty in most of contemporary culture, but these guys achieve it profoundly, IMO. Their concert/travelog/documentary video called 'Heima' is an absolutely marvelous thing.

A little gossipy political trivia: Belinda Carlisle, a flaming liberal, is married to Alexander Morgan Mason, an establishment Reagan Republican.

One of my main complaints about Tears for Fears is that they were too self-consciously pop, in many ways they filled their songs with unneeded fluff. In the brilliant remake of "Mad World" by Gary Jules, he removes the excess and sings a simpler acoustic song that is twenty times better than the original.

That's off the top of my head, anyway. I'm more of a forty-something ex metalhead than a current metalhead, but I still appreciate it as much as a well executed fistfight.

This fighting style uses an economy of movement with a cheesy yet appropriate metal accompaniment. Those Serbians don’t play around.

I should add to my comment above that I believe that heavy metal, punk, and other types of angry and/or ugly music appeal to a lower part of the soul than do those styles of music which are more noble and uplifting. In short, I'm with Richard Weaver and E. Michael Jones here -- the music itself, and not just the lyrics, has a moral component. It isn't simply a matter of preferring certain styles over others in a purely aesthetic sense.

I should add to my comment above that I believe that heavy metal, punk, and other types of angry and/or ugly music appeal to a lower part of the soul than do those styles of music which are more noble and uplifting.
I absolutely agree. There is reason, objective reason, why some music is appropriate at Mass and some is not.

**conservatives simultaneously believe in "high-brow" things and in preserving those best and great things and are in an important sense "elitist" while at the same time having a love of the ordinary man and a desire to champion him against the limousine liberals.**

It is precisely this type/aspect of conservativism that I love and attempt to emulate. Russell Kirk and Roger Scruton are exemplars of this kind of thing.


I was me who referenced Roger Scruton taking notice of Meticalla's music.


I heartily agree with you about System of a Down's music -- in another thread Steve mentioned how great classical composers would incorporate elements of folk music into their compositions. System of a Down does the same with Armenian folk music. But they are so far left with respect to their lyrical content (when they aren't being vulgar), that I'm just thankful you can't understand them a lot of the time.


I was playing "Rock Band" with my brother the other day and I wanted to hear the Coheed and Cambria song called "Welcome Home", because it is used in the visually stunning movie trailer for the movie "9". Right before the song begins, the game shows you a quote from the band whose song you are about to pretend to play. Coheed and Cambria's quote was something like the following: "When young bands ask us for advice about being successful in the music industry, we tell them, 'listen to Maiden'."


Thanks for pointing out Welcome Home. You can definitely hear Maiden influence in the axe work. I've stuck it on my iPhone so I can listen to the whole song later.

Since Steve B has conceded the possibility of at least some artistic merit in some metal, I guess that makes us all blood brothers.

Rob G,
The Sigur Ros video for Glósóli is so Pied Piperish I found it a bit disturbing. It also concludes with Zippy’s free and equal supermen, which is supposed to be bad. Contrarily, I have heard their music used as background to a fireworks video that was exhilarating.

Zippy, Steve & Maximos:

Thanks for the above candid comments that provided a brief excursion into those things 'metal'.

Myself, I find it strangely ironic and fascinatingly humorous (as well as somewhat ingratiating) that even our distinguished hosts, gentlemen of certain erudition and fine culture as well as being ostensibly staunch devotees to the conservative principle (in light of the respective treatises hitherto submitted in that regard), should exhibit a flaw that seems so glaringly antithetical to the prototypical conservative persona (i.e., I scarcely imagine the Great Bill Buckley, the late champion of right-wing conservatives everywhere, ever waxing eloquent, let alone, even giving ear to ‘metal’) .

Or, perhaps, better still, I simply (and quite sadly) remain rather oblivious to those inherently laudable and esoteric qualities you gentlemen find so magnificently redeeming in that ‘music’, which somehow nevertheless continues to elude me and, thus, remains wholly and distinctly enigmatic, that it may very well be the case that appreciation of such ‘music’ are for better men than I, wherein all attempts at my enlightenment concerning it would be all but futile.

"The Sigur Ros video for Glósóli is so Pied Piperish I found it a bit disturbing. It also concludes with Zippy’s free and equal supermen, which is supposed to be bad."

Not having the lyrics I've no idea what the song is really about, but to me the video seemed a rather moving dramatization of hope. If you watch the 'Heima' documentary what strikes the viewer immediately is how unbelievably normal the band is -- they just seem like four very average guys with no rock star mentality whatsoever. They seem to like people and like making music, end of story. Here's a post from Catholic blogger Maclin Horton about them which captures my thoughts almost exactly:


Aristocles, I'm with you on metal. Although I can appreciate the musicianship involved, I've never liked it (and I've liked some pretty heavy non-metal stuff), as I've always detected a whiff of the abyss accompanying it. Artistic merit isn't everything, after all.

Todd, Zippy, Zach, Rob G - many thanks for your suggestions.

Rob G - Palestrina, Bruckner, Vaughan Williams, huh? Shall I flood you with dozens of free MP3's of the best recorded performances?

E-mail me if interested.

Aristocles: not to worry. I'd bet my bottom dollar that, when it comes to music, I can out-reactionary you any day of the week. My idea of heaven would be to have been present at the premiere of Edward Elgar's First Symphony, in Manchester, in 1908. I'm trying to work up a post on that topic. Wish me luck.

Steve: I'll anxiously be awaiting these and many more from you concerning this and other related topics.

Rob: Well, at least it seems I'm not without company in my displeasure for that kind of music.

"Rob G - Palestrina, Bruckner, Vaughan Williams, huh? Shall I flood you with dozens of free MP3's of the best recorded performances?"

Steve, being somewhat of a Luddite, I have not yet got the MP3 bug. I'm not unhappy with CDs, and their cost does help me to be disciplined and selective in my choices. But thanks anyways!

Rob G - good heavens - no ipod yet?

Believe me: it can be used for good, as well as evil!

Anyway, some unsolicited advice: if you like what you've heard of Palestrina, you *must* check out his (even greater) predecessor, Josquin desPrez. (Start with the Missa L'Homme arme Sexti Toni). And you must also check out the astonishing "Responsories for Tenebrae" and Requiem Mass by his greatest successor, Tomas Luis de Victoria.

As for Bruckner & Vaughan Williams - well, it would take me all day...

Odd, I've been listening to Vaughn Williams the past two weeks on the way to work...

That's a very clever and funny reminiscence. Joycean, in fact.

It calls to mind Dylan Thomas with his finger stuck in the bottle.

"good heavens - no ipod yet?"

I didn't get a cell phone until the autumn of 2002, and then only out of necessity. I kept the same one until 2007, and then 'upgraded' to the cheapest, least fancy model you can get.

Yes, I already know and love Josquin and Victoria, not to mention Byrd and Tallis, and some of their lesser-known brethren as well!

The interesting thing about this thread, for me personally, is that I began my journey toward traditionalism at age 6, kneeling in ecstasy before the speaker of my Dad's home made mono "hi-fi," awash for hours on end in the Festival of Lessons and Carols performed in 1956, I think it was, at Kings College Chapel by their choir under Boris Ord. All my highest aspirations since have been shaped by that experience of the sublime.

My mother gently suggested that if I loved that music so much, perhaps I should audition for the Cathedral Choir. I did, and got in. I was good at it; over the decades since I have performed the liturgical music of all the composers mentioned in this thread (except Part, whom I admire tremendously).

To the aficionados of High Medieval liturgical music who have posted so far, allow me to recommend Leonel Power. Among the moderns, John Tavener is not to be missed.

Thanks for the reco on Power, Kristor. I'll check him out. I haven't liked too much of Tav's recent stuff, but some of his earlier material is very good indeed. My favorite contemporary choral composer (although he's not 'liturgical') is Morten Lauridsen.

My two most recent Renaissance music "finds" are John Browne ('Music From the Eaton Choirbook') and Cristobal de Morales.

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