Hidden Windows by Jeremy Henzell-Thomas

I need to begin with a confession. I approach music not as a disengaged academic or critical exercise but from an experiential perspective as a keen amateur pianist, music lover and unashamed advocate of the power of music to move, inspire and heal the soul. My first piano lessons at the age of six initiated an immersion in music as a lifelong inspiration. At school,  I studied music to an advanced level, and for a while I wanted to become  a professional musician or a scholar of musicology.

Brought up as an Anglican Christian, attending chapel at boarding school every day of the school term for five years, I was also steeped in the beautiful choral tradition of the Anglican liturgy, and was privileged as a teenager to stand in for the organist at the parish church in my home town for Sunday services and for weddings during the summer holidays. I revered the canon of sacred choral music in the broader Christian tradition, from Gregorian chant, through the works of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, to the devout masses, passions and cantatas of JS Bach, the dramatic oratorios of Handel, the great requiem masses of Mozart, Brahms and Verdi, and later twentieth century works such as Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and Edward Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. And that sense of the sacred permeates not only music that is explicitly religious. In discussing with me the music of Anton Bruckner, a friend remarked on how ‘utterly overwhelming and elusive’ and ‘impossible to capture’ was ‘the effect of the sacred on the soul’ so deeply felt and perceived by this composer.

To read more become a Fellow of the Muslim Institute