In artist-in-residence program, young woman composes music
By Theresa Henson
Spokane composer Xanthe Kraft spent most of March in the Monastery of St. Gertrude's artist-in-residence program.
Inspired by the monastic day arranged around morning and evening prayer, and midday Mass or prayer, Xanthe created a schedule that included time to write in the morning and time to compose music in the afternoon.
"An artistic journey is also a spiritual journey and moral journey," she said. "The Holy Spirit that inspires goodness and truth also inspires beauty."
As part of her time at St. Gertrude's, Xanthe composed a Mass used for the liturgy of the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25. Her goal was to create music to complement the congregation's voice.
"What's going on in Mass is incredible. Music should not detract from that," said Xanthe, who cites influences in Celtic melody and Gregorian chant.
"I tried to make a simple song," she explained, also referring to Hildegard of Bingen's compositions and aesthetic philosophy. "God, who at once is the simplest and most all-encompassing, delights in a simple song."
Xanthe, who is 24 years old, recently graduated with a master's in music composition from Dartmouth College.
She describes her spiritual journey as questioning herself as a creative being, finding God's imprint—and through grace having revelations about God through contemplation that inspires works of beauty—or, as Xanthe says, "to react to beauty with meaning.
"I have wanted to write this Mass for a while, and I wouldn't have without this artist's residency," she said.
Initially the residency was challenging as she was confronted with a lack of her usual distractions.
"I tried to go through this residency as a spiritual journey," she said.
Xanthe has composed music since she was five years old. She was raised Catholic and describes coming into her faith while at college at Dartmouth.
She found the party culture bleak and she found a crisis of purpose among her peers.
Through participation in campus ministry and a music ensemble, she developed a prayer life that also inspired her music. Her compositions became a response of gratitude and celebration to God rather than an endeavor of isolated artistic achievement.
"The result is always better when you do it for God rather than people," she said. "As with many of our journeys of finding Jesus, we don't discover him there, we discover that he has always been there."
For information, call 208-962-5065, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stgertrudes.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, May, 2019