Music with Minnesotans: Barbara Mraz

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
November 30, 2011
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St. Paul, Minn. — Barbara Mraz is a deacon at St. John the Evangelist in Saint Paul. I have gotten to know her through her amazing sermons that bring spiritual teachings alive and give them a presence and relevance to my life.

What I learned recently is that she is a huge movie fan, so much so that she has written a book called "Finding Faith at the Movies," a guide that helps leaders to bring their congregations' spirituality to life through the use of the visual element of film.

I was so taken with this book because I suddenly found myself seeing some of my favorite movies differently, keeping always in the back of my mind the larger meaning and how it affects my choices and actions.

Barb was a bit nervous about sharing her playlist since she didn't think her regular listening to Classical-MPR made her some sort of expert, but I convinced her that some of the best classical music ever written is that for films and suddenly she was game.

Two of the pieces are original - Patrick Doyle's "Non Nobis Domine" from Kenneth Branagh's film of Shakespeare's "Henry V" and the stunning final scene from "Cinema Paridiso" by Ennio Morricone.

The other pieces on this playlist set a scene, but were not written for film - Mozart's Requiem used in "Amadeus" and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue used in Woody Allen's Manhattan.

Enlivening academic and spiritual material with films always has worked for Barb. Particularly when the film deals with one of the deadly sins: jealousy. Amadeus may be fiction, but the human emotions Salieri deals with as a composer recognizing he will never have the talent of a Mozart, are very real. The spectacular music from Mozart's Requiem can't be topped by anything to bring the end of life and the terror of what's in the next world into living color.

Closing the interview is a 16-minute love story to New York City - Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue taken from the film "Manhattan." Music in this case again becomes a tool to make the visual experience of film even more intense. And what a great performance chosen by Woody Allen for his film!

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Barbara Mraz's playlist:

Patrick Doyle, Henry V: Non Nobis Domine - Prague Philharmonic Orchestra/Crouch End Festival Choir

Ennio Moriccone, Love Theme from "Cinema Paradiso" - Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/Mauceri

W.A. Mozart, Requiem - Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Marriner

George Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue - Gary Graffman, NY Philharmonic

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Join me next week when artist Tuckaghrie Hollingsworth joins me. He takes some of the most sumptuous photos of landscapes at night lit only by ambient light. The work is colorful, intense and moody and is complimented by the classical music playlist he listens to while working.

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