Welcome to Ora et Exerceo


DPP_0024.JPG-Iona-Abbey-candlesWelcome to Ora et Exerceo, a new website that has grown out of my previous blog, “World of Your Making.”  My name is Rick Lord and I’m currently the Rector of Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia.  I’ve had the privilege of serving this vibrant Episcopal parish since the summer of 1994.

This blog is something of an online journal for me and that is why I’ve kept all the previous posts from “World of Your Making” on this newly designed site. While I’ve tended to write primarily about matters related to personal faith, Anglican spirituality, and missional leadership, I have in recent years discovered a renewed passion for the study of the classical guitar (I majored in guitar performance as an undergraduate). What’s different about my recent efforts with the classical guitar is that I have come to appreciate the time I spend in practice as a musical form of contemplative prayer and that has been a rewarding and somewhat surprising discovery.

In 1999 Pope John Paul II composed a Letter to Artists and dedicated it “To all who are passionately dedicated  to the search for new “epiphanies” of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world.”  In this Letter, he reminds us that the object of all great art is beauty, and beauty makes us nostalgic for God. Whether we consider ourselves people of faith or not, the arts arouse in us what the he describes as a ‘universal desire for redemption.’ I first came across this helpful description of beauty in a novel, “Chasing Francis,” by author Ian Cron.  I highly recommend this book for those seeking to recover some semblance of authentic faith in our rapidly changing world today.  The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, called it “compelling” as well as “a remarkable book.”

So in the days ahead, I plan to explore the intriguing relationship between art and beauty, transcendence and nostalgia, prayer and practice and other things that keep human life distinctively human.  From time to time I’ll be posting video projects from my guitar studies on the portfolio page, and some recent sermons as well. I hope that you may find some inklings of beauty through these pages and that you might share a few with me along the way.

Thanks for stopping by,



Cançó del lladre, “Thief’s song,” arr. Miguel Llobet (1878-1938)

From one of Llobet’s best known works, Diez Canciones Populares Catalanas (Ten Catalonian Folk Songs), published by Union Musicale Española in 1964. Recorded in the early morning light (alas, the lens glare in the lower left) before heading off to work today.

The photo shows Llobet and his daughter, María Luisa Anido. She became an accomplished guitarist and composer and once stated, “Composing is a wonderful task because of the sincerity it carries within, because of the act of creation itself… because it reveals the greatest depths of the human soul.”

Fantasia in D Minor – S.L. Weiss

I’m preparing this piece for an upcoming video exchange lesson with master guitarist, Jason Vieaux. The Fantasia, originally in C minor for the Lute, bears the inscription, “Weiss 1719 à Prague.” The first half, which is unmeasured, consists of a continuous flow of lyrical phrases. The second, which is metered, presents a fugue subject which rises quickly to an expansive state before returning suddenly to the melodic discourse of the beginning. I’ll most likely redo this video after the lesson and more repetitions!

Ten Affirmations That Energize Practice

From The Musicians Way Newsletter:

Layout 1“I think it’s beautiful to practice. I love to practice.”
-Claudio Arrau, pianist*

To be a musician is to be someone who practices.

Day after day, we musicians work in solitude to learn new repertoire, refine old repertoire, and polish our skills.

Most performers also rehearse with others, applying their solitary efforts in groups large and small.

The demands of daily practice prove too much for some aspiring artists, but affirmations can powerfully fuel any artist’s drive to work.

The Power of Affirmations
Affirmations are positive self-statements that can be uttered mentally or aloud. They help generate internal states that boost creativity and motivation (see “Positive Mood Allows Brain to Think More Creatively” in Science News).

In truth, the things we say things to ourselves before, during, and after practice have potent effects: “Self-talk can be positive, negative, or neutral, but it almost always has some influence on our behavior,” wrote psychologists Paul Salmon & Robert Meyer in Notes from the Green Room (p. 68).

The following 10 affirmations help generate positivity in practice. Try them during practice sessions and throughout each day to help unleash your creative energy. Also make up affirmations of your own, and feel free to share your experiences here.

10 Affirmations that Inspire Music Practice

  1. “I’m grateful to be able to make music.”
  2. “I open my heart to the richness of my musical adventure.”
  3. “I embrace challenges as opportunities to advance.”
  4. “I’m confident in my abilities.”
  5. “I trust in my capacity to grow.”
  6. “I look forward to today’s discoveries.”
  7. “It’s beautiful to practice. I love to practice.”
  8. “Music is my true love.”
  9. “I’m fortunate to be able to pursue my love of music.”
  10. “I’m thankful to all the people who have supported my music making.”

Jason Vieaux Releases New Album, “Play”

jasonvieauxplaycoverThe person who has ignited a renewed passion in my life for the study of Classical Guitar is a down to earth virtuoso named Jason Vieaux (go to his website here.)  Jason co-founded the guitar department at The Curtis Institute of Music, and he has taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music since 2001.

I met Jason Vieaux at a Master Class held at Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, N.Y.  I was a nervous mess when I had to play for him, but by the end of the week long class, he had managed to encourage my ability and approach to the guitar in ways I had never attempted nor even dreamed of before (see my post from July 2011, Guitarists in the Monastery) .  Not only is he an extraordinary musician, but he is an excellent teacher and ambassador for the classical guitar.  I’ve had several private lessons with Jason and was one of the early students to enroll in his online school with Artistworks (an amazing online resource for learning all styles of music).  He is generous and encouraging in his pedagogical approach no matter what level of ability presented by his students.

The official release of his newest solo album, Play, on Azica Records, is scheduled for January 28, 2014, but is now available on Amazon and iTunes. The album celebrates Jason Vieaux’s 20th anniversary as a performer by featuring the Spanish, Mexican, South American, Cuban, French, and American classics that Vieaux has found to be universal audience favorites over the past two decades. The music includes showpieces by Barrios, Sagreras, Bustamante, and Sainz De La Maza, Tárrega’s classics Recuerdos de la Alhambra and Capricho Arabe, and Vieaux’s own in-demand arrangement of Duke Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood and Andrew York’s popular Sunburst.

It is one of the most spirited and dynamically expressive classical guitar recordings I have ever heard and reveals Jason’s expressive virtuosity at the service of a wide range of music styles.  His arrangement of Ellington’s In A Sentimental Mood is simply stunning.  If you have not had the pleasure of hearing Jason Vieaux before, this may be the perfect album to get you started.  Bravo Jason!