Art and music collaborate to bring healing through lamentation

“For some time I have been concerned that many of us do not know how to lament—or at least we do not often allow ourselves to do so.” —David Squires, PhD, composer and Associate Professor of Music at TWU

Langley, B.C.—Tragedy and death have always been part of human experience. There is a universal longing to make sense out of our suffering, but often our response turns to anger, revenge or denial. Many people, however, understand lament as part of a healthy response to suffering. On November 7th at Bakerview church in Abbotsford and on November 8th at Vancouver’s ManiFest festival, three Trinity Western University professors will present a performing arts showcase including an evening of live orchestral and chamber music along with a live world premiere of the multimedia presentation, “Come...Help Me Lament.”

The media presentation features visual projections by artist and TWU Associate Professor of Art, Erica Grimm-Vance. A recorded version of the visuals and music for “Come…Help Me Lament” was prepared for a service Grimm-Vance attended in Sydney, Australia on October 12, 2003, marking the first anniversary of the terrorist bombing in Bali where 88 Australians were killed.

The images and music play off of one another to speak to the human experience of grieving. According to Grimm-Vance, the visuals are intended to express the range of emotions felt during the lamentation process by using a great deal of black and blank spaces in a similar way that musicians use silence.

“I have, in the past, experienced grief like a wave, at times raw, and overpowering, receding to a gentler rhythm, before escalating once again,” says Grimm-Vance. “The piece tries to be honest about the grieving experience. Hope is very real and is evident, but the refrain, ‘how long?’ bears witness to the recurring disasters, man made and otherwise, that continue to beset our world. We wait, in hope, of the healing which has been promised.”

Inspired by the events of 9/11, the musical composition, “Come…Help Me Lament,” was written by colleague David Squires, PhD, Associate Professor of Music at TWU, and will be performed by the TWU Orchestra.

“I am so grateful to Erica for the opportunity to collaborate with her on this project,” he says. “I have been moved by her work for many years, and particularly the strength of emotion felt in the pieces which form part of this project.”

Squires, who has been teaching TWU students to compose music of their own, explains the inspiration behind the piece.

“For some time I have been concerned that many of us do not know how to lament—or at least we do not often allow ourselves to do so,” he says. “My hope is that those who have experienced such destruction in their past will find comfort in this piece. I do not profess to know how to lament well, but am learning and healing.”

The third professor completing the poignant triad is TWU instructor of Music Calvin Dyck, DMA. Performing a duet with BIOLA Strings Professor Mary Beth Woodruff, Dyck will play the perennial favourite, Bach's Double Violin Concerto, but only on November 7th. This duet is a rare opportunity to team with Woodruff who is on tour from California with the Biola University Honours String Quartet, which will perform works by Vivaldi, Schubert and Shostakovich.

Dyck is more than happy to share the stage with a myriad of other talented performers. "When artists collaborate the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," he says. "By combining art and music, the synthesis is more exciting as it touches more of the senses and elevates the performance to a new dimension."

The collaborative concert including the Double Violin Concerto and Strings Quartet will take place on Friday, November 7, 2003 at 8:00pm at Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church (2285 Clearbrook Rd.) For information, please call (604) 855-9696.

The second event takes place Saturday November 8, 2003, 7:30 pm at Fairview Church in Vancouver (1708 W 16th), as part of the IMAGO ‘Arts Showcase’ at ManiFest Arts Festival. Both events are free of charge, but there will be a free will offering to cover costs. For more information please call Rachel Dickey at (604) 888-7511. A third event featuring ‘Come…Help Me Lament’ takes place November 12, 2003 at Trinity Western University’s second Art Talk. Event starts at 7:00pm in the Northwest Building at TWU. Please contact Doris Auxier (604-888-7511) for more information.

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-13
Author: Keela Keeping