Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 16, 2009
Theology put to music
Theologian-composer finds inspiration for 'deep soul music' in John Paul II's theology of the body
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Peter Baklinski plays a composition from his CD Resonance of the Gift as his wife Erin looks on.
BY RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
VILNA — Peter Baklinski says Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body has influenced his entire life — his marriage, his family life, his thoughts and even his music.
So impressed is the 28-year-old scholar and composer with the late pope’s teaching on human sexuality he recently produced a CD of original piano music expressing the themes and ideas found in it.
The album — Resonance of the Gift — is a collection of musical reflections on theology of the body, which originated from a series of short talks that the pope gave on marriage and sexuality between 1979 and 1984.
Baklinski believes music has the power to elevate people to the divine and is hoping his album will do that. “I hope that in experiencing this music people may become inspired and enlivened by the grandeur and beauty of human love.”
Baklinski plans to use earnings from the CD towards his studies as a doctoral student at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne, Australia.
“I did everything myself,” he says proudly of his album. “It was a pretty big learning curve to learn about recording piano music and learning the programs to design the album.”
Baklinski completed the album just before Christmas and so far has sold 200 copies, mostly through his website. He has also performed concerts in several parishes, where he has also sold the CD.
Baklinski, wife Erin and daughters Gianna and Perina live in a picturesque three-bedroom house in the midst of a large pine forest near Vilna.
They moved to this peaceful country setting from Ontario a year ago so Baklinski could complete his doctoral studies. He will do his second year of studies at Melbourne and plans to move there with his family at the end of July.
The young scholar enjoys his natural surroundings, especially the solitude, which he says helps him order his thoughts, write his dissertation and meditate.
One of the main things on his mind these days is John Paul II’s theology of the body, which he believes presents a countercultural message that affirms the sanctity of marriage.
Baklinski and his wife fell in love with the pope’s teaching on human sexuality in 2004 while pursuing masters level studies at Austria’s International Theological Institute.
“We both took a course on theology of the body with much excitement. After that I realized that this is what I want to give my life to; this is what I want to study and this is what I also really want to teach.”
Now the couple tries to live their lives according to the teaching and thinks it is the answer to today’s problems.
“The truths that are in theology of the body are really the remedy to what we are experiencing right now with basically the break up of marriage, the misunderstanding of what it really means to be a family and the misunderstanding of sexuality,” Baklinski says. “Theology of the body is the best remedy for understanding these things and putting things back on track again.”
The idea of setting John Paul’s teachings to music came from wife Erin while the couple discussed how to raise funds for his doctoral studies.
At first Baklinski rejected the idea. But then the excitement of being the first to write music inspired by John Paul II’s thoughts led him to accept the idea.
“I said, ‘Oh God, if you want this to happen, things will fall into place,’” he recalls. “A lot of people have read John Paul II’s words and they brought his understandings to medicine, to different fields of science but no one has ever brought his ideas to music yet. So this was something new.”
All of the music in Resonance of the Gift was composed by Baklinski, the fruit of years of meditation while playing the piano.
He didn’t come to this point by chance. As a teen Baklinski spent eight years taking piano lessons at the Royal Conservatory of Music and was exposed to all different genres of piano music with especial attention to the masters — Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Chopin.
Unsatisfied just playing music, Baklinski started writing his own melodies on the piano. “If these people can make this beautiful music, why can’t I?” he would say.
Over the years he developed the habit of setting his own thoughts to piano music. That’s how the music on his album began to take shape. While composing on the piano, he often found himself reflecting on the themes and ideas found in theology of the body and became inspired to express these through music.
“I would be thinking about something I had read in theology of the body and I would make a little melody or a little something that would express what I was thinking about,” he explains.
“Before you know it, I started having all these little snippets of music which when I play them make me think about something I’d read in theology of the body.”
One of John Paul II’s ideas is that man in the beginning, namely Adam, was created in solitude and longed for somebody he could give himself to.
To set this idea to music Baklinski thought about how lonely Adam would have felt in the midst of creation and came up with a melody. Then he put harmonization to it and finished a piece called Solitude in Creation — the CD’s second track.
DEEP SOUL MUSIC
All 12 tracks in Resonance of the Gift have to do with an idea that came from theology of the body, he asserts.
“I would call it deep soul music. And the idea is that the melodies speak directly to you and help you to think about these things in theology of the body.”
Non-religious people “will take this music and will say this is amazing music,” Baklinski said. “But if you read theology of the body and then listen to the songs it even becomes more powerful.”
To purchase a CD and for more information please visit: www.resonanceofthegift.com.