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Taylor Swift, Sara Mingardo, JS Bach and a quiet WTF

[ by Charles Cameron — some very beautiful music accompanied by unexpected visuals ]

I am in full agreement with this tweet today from our co-blogger here on Zenpundit, Scott Shipman:

Cantata 63, Christen ätzet diesen Tag, is indeed among the five or so works of Bach to which I find myself constantly turning, though not to this particular movement or performance. It is the work that John Eliot Gardiner performed so movingly, and that wonderfully caught for us on DVD — I’ve spoken of it before.

Today, though, Scott’s post brings us a mystery I’ve been pondering, and preparing to post about, for a few weeks now. It involves a series of videos, as you can see, and videos take time to watch, I know. I can only say that the music of Cantata 63 itself is wonderful, and the mystery really quite a puzzle. I hope you will find both worth your while.


Without further comment, then, here is Taylor Swift performing Love Story:

That seems simple enough.

Here, though, is the same footage used to present Cantata 63, directed by Karl Richter:

And here is what I take to be the same exact recording, presented with different visuals:


To my mind, those three videos taken together raise all sorts of interesting questions about the sacred and the profane, eros and agape, aesthetics, mixology, you name it…


Here is Sara Mingardo singing the recitative O Selger Tag from the same Cantata — in the superlative rendering which I mentioned above — and only recently rediscovered on YouTube, and can thus bring you:

I have listened to a number of versions of this aria — and to my ear, mind, and heart, Mingardo brings a devotion to this “mere” recitative which far outdistances the others.


Now for the second part of my puzzle:

The second of those videos, with the glamorous Ms Swift’s imagery accompanying Herr Bach’s cantata, was posted by one “voiceofshariah” whose 117 videos include more Bach with Taylor Swift imagery:

— quite a glorious Bach organ piece with which I was not already familiar — but also, under the name “afghanistansomalia”, this version of the B Minor Mass, which I discussed here earlier in a post titled Osama and the flute of the devil:

— which you’ll note is posted after bin Laden‘s death, and — as if to confuse matters even further — this video, again with OBL visuals, of Maurice Jarre‘s soundtrack for the David Lean / Peter O’Toole film, Lawrence of Arabia!

Whoa! Osama bin Laden and Lawrence of Arabia?

What one is to make of all this, I can only guess. I desperately want to get back to the simple appreciation of beauty, however, and will do so, I hope, in an upcoming yet related post.

10 Responses to “Taylor Swift, Sara Mingardo, JS Bach and a quiet WTF”

  1. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Hi Charles,
    Didn’t have to wait long! Agree with you on the JEG performance; I purchased the DVDs on your recommendation. 

  2. Grurray Says:

    “Messianic dedication”

    In the middles ages there was the legend of Prestor John
    the lost Christian king of the east who may have been based on a real Mongolian warlord
    and was one of the motivations behind Jacqued De Molay’s strategy to reconquer Jerusalem during the waning days of the Crusades

  3. Lynn C. Rees Says:

    12 For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.

    Doctrine and Covenants 25:12


    Mom led our congregational choir for many years. She often led the congregation in song when we gathered to partake of the sacraments. Music was her calling.


    I remain unsure what exactly the patterns of rhythmic waving of her conductor’s baton as she conducting indicated. There must be a class that teaches aspiring conductors that discipline somewhere.


    I do know that her conductor’s baton resembled a rapier. Growing up, it proved useful for poking my many siblings. A leading indicator of where my interests diverge from Mom’s.


    Many congregants did not sing during congregational hymns. Perhaps they talked. Perhaps they chased their many small children. Perhaps they stared blankly into space. Perhaps some slept. Perhaps the latter two were contemplating the divine, if we are being generous in spirit. Perhaps, given more generosity, the non-singing Saint’s spirits were willing but their flesh, vocal cords or otherwise, was weak.


    Mom was upset though, when Saints didn’t sing. They may not have grasped that hymns, when a righteous offering, was as much prayer as more explicit prayers offered to open and close the meeting and administer the sacraments.


    Though not prone to bursting into song, I sing with the Saints. It pleases the Lord. It pleases Mom, who’s passed beyond.


    (Though, in my case, the Lord’s counsel requires amendment: the screech of the righteous is a prayer unto Him.)


    The spirit is willing. The flesh is discordant.


    As Charles hints, Signora Mingardo’s extraordinary rendition is prayer and an offering. The spirit is willing and the flesh is in full harmony.

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hi Grurray:
    The phrase “Messianic dedication” cropped up in the earlier post I referenced in this one — Osama and the flute of the devil — as part of the discussion of the heraldry of another weird visual attached to some Bach by the same Youtube poster, this time having to do with putative Afghan history. I suppose your comment would technically have fitted better there, but have left it here because it will no doubt find more readers here in a “current” post.
    Ass I see it, the tie in is between “messianism” — typically an Abrahamic idea — and places as far east as Afghanistan and Mongolia.  If you’d care to say more, I’d certainly be interested.

  5. Grurray Says:

    “(Though, in my case, the Lord’s counsel requires amendment: the screech of the righteous is a prayer unto Him.)”
    Lynn,  I can relate. I try to find a seat closest to the instrumentalists in order to find the best position for my voice to “blend” with the hymns.
    Charles,  your link to the Hebrew heritage of Afghanistan reminded me of the missionary work of St. Thomas in Parthia. The exploitation (or lack thereof) of that convergent evolution in the Knights Templar Levant strategy has been something I’ve found interesting as Persia and Israel seem like natural geographic allies. But that is probably straying too far off topic.
    I will say this. The mash up of Taylor Swift and Bach has caused me to, for probably the first time, pay more attention to the music instead of staring at Swift. Further proof of the power and beauty of his music.

  6. Charles Cameron Says:


    The mash up of Taylor Swift and Bach has caused me to, for probably the first time, pay more attention to the music instead of staring at Swift. Further proof of the power and beauty of his music.

    To which I can only say, Amen!

  7. Charles Cameron Says:

    What a simply beautiful comment. 

  8. Lynn C. Rees Says:



    What a simply beautiful juxtaposition (double-quote?) you have posted.

  9. Charles Cameron Says:

    It is my good fortune to have such friends to respond to : )

  10. J. Scott Shipman Says:

    Of course, I’ve had that Bach Cantata on most of the day…

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