This week: Sohrab Ahmari, lost music from Canterbury, the city of dogs & more from the world of culture.
From Fire, by Water, by Sohrab Ahmari (Ignatius Press): When the Iranian-born Sohrab Ahmari moved to the United States as a teenager, his idols were secular and cultural ones. He loved everything about America; it seemed so modern, far ahead of what he saw as the “irrational” Iranian way of living. Ahmari eventually went to law school and became a journalist, writing for American publications across the political and religious spectrum: The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Commentary, The New Republic, and more. But as he lived and worked in the United States (and later, in Britain), he realized that above the shiny, secular aspects of its culture, there must be something more. Ahmari, now the op-ed editor at the New York Post and a contributing editor at The Catholic Herald, converted to Catholicism in 2016, a transformation that he describes in this forthright and well-written spiritual memoir. —HN
“The Lost Music of Canterbury,” at Corpus Christi Church (February 10): At a time when early music is very much in vogue, Blue Heron is interested in more than a revival: the a cappella choir is currently performing a re-creation of music from the Peterhouse Partbooks. Many copies of this once-extensive anthology of English polyphony were destroyed during the Reformation, and the few copies that do remain are missing their tenor vocal part. The musicologist Nick Sandon rewrote these parts for Blue Heron, and the group has recorded five CDs from the Partbooks. Sunday’s program features a selection of works by Robert Fayrfax, John Taverner, Arthur Chamberlayne, and other English composers from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries who have been too soon forgotten. —HN
“Abdolreza Aminlari: For a Different Future,” at Situations (through February 24): Paint, paper, and thread all come together in the intricate and intimate work of Abdolreza Aminlari, a Brooklyn-based, Iranian-born artist, now on view at Situations gallery on the Lower East Side. With works on paper made of blue gouache and gilded thread, Aminlari alights on the culture of Persian textile by way of the Azulejo tiles of Porto, Portugal. More than some magic carpet ride, these smart geometric abstractions are transporting and rooted in equal measure. —JP
“City Of Dogs: New York Dogs, Their Neighborhoods, and the People Who Love Them,” with Ken Foster, at Shakespeare & Co (February 5): While we often hear of New York’s eight-million-plus human inhabitants, our six hundred thousand canine confreres receive less notice. Unless you’re up early, you might miss the morning parade, when pooches from Springer Spaniels to Spitzes, Gordon Setters to Golden Retrievers patrol each nook of the city. Ken Foster, in his new book City of Dogs (Avery), documents New Yorkers’ relationships with their dogs, aided by Traer Scott’s photographs. Foster will speak tomorrow night at Shakespeare & Co.’s Upper West Side location, at 2020 Broadway. —BR
From the archive: “Heaney in love,” by Adam Kirsch (April 2008). On the love poetry of Seamus Heaney.
From the current issue: “In search of the American Virgil,” by John Byron Kuhner. On the Latin poetry of Fr. Rafael Landívar.