Have you heard of SETI? SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and no, it’s not some esoteric self-finding trip I signed up to. It is a scientific project actually, run by volunteers at the University of California in Berkeley. It was funded for some time by NASA. Basically it analyses radio-waves from deep space, looking for pattern that would betray some form of intelligence. A huge volume of data, captured by radio telescopes, needs to be analysed, and the project relies on decentralized computing. All over the world, me and other volunteers like me download data sets. They are being analysed by my Mac’s computing power in the background while I write this post for instance.
The moment I sat down to write this post, I was suffering from an acute lack of daylight. I mean real daylight, a shining sun. Instead I get several variations of grey and I have the choice between pouring rain or freezing temperatures. It’s time for a little artificial light then, the memory of a sunny afternoon and a long autumn stroll, the sound of a lively, joyful piece of music: Franz Berwald’s Piano Quintet No. 2 in A major, Op. 6.
Something solemn! That was the idea. But no Bach! Anybody can blog about Bach’s music on Christmas. And everybody does. Except me. I had a few other options: Saint-Saëns, Händel, Pärt. I listened to preludes, fugues, organ pieces – no. What about a cantata? I liked the idea. A cantata – I didn’t know too many cantatas that weren’t written by Bach though. And then my eyes fell on the perfect music for Christmas: Alexander Grechaninov’s cantata “Praise the Lord” (Хвалите Бога), Op. 65.
Harmony. Christmas is about harmony. Harmony can only exist when there is hope. Christmas is about hope. Christmas is about light and guidance. Christmas is about a promise of a better life, a life in harmony. A life, where evil has been vanquished, where love triumphs over hate. When I look back at my life, I remember no time when I was as dispirited about humanity as now. The will to solve the urgent global problems in a spirit of benevolence and cooperation just seems to be a phrase, while real life is moving into the opposite direction.