176. CFAMC Listening Page – Delvyn Case

Delvyn Case III:
The Borromeo Quartet

MP3 Score

The PDF is for viewing only. Please contact the composer for further use.


The Hebrew word “Ruach” means both “breath” and “spirit.” Fundamental to this word (and to the Greek analogue, pneuma, which also is used in both ways) is a paradox. The notion of “spirit” denotes something ineffable and invisible – yet something that is always ready to break through and make itself known in a transformative way. In the same way, our breath is something simultaneously ineffable and invisible – yet also so fundamentally physical that our bodies do it without our conscious thought. We usually only become aware of our breathing when we are experience something surprising or particularly important: when something beautiful makes us catch our breath, our something frightening makes us cry out in terror. In the same way, we are not usually aware of our “spirit” except in special circumstances: in a religious or spiritual state, for example, or when we have to call upon something deep within us in order to create – or to endure. Ruach confronts this paradox by bringing to our awareness many different ways “breath” and “spirit” can become sonically and dramatic present.


I’m a Christian because I try to follow Jesus. There are three reasons why. First, because his radical love for all – especially the “least of these” – is so distinctive and powerful that I can’t imagine what the world would be like without it. God help me if I ever forget it. Second: because he embraced the mystery of God without ceding intellectual and moral rigor . Thus, he is the ultimate paradigm for any aspiring artist. Third: because I have felt his presence in my life since I was a small boy. My faith has changed so much since then, but despite my doubts and fears, Jesus has never let me go. Lord, I believe: help my unbelief!


Delvyn Case is a composer, conductor, scholar, performer, and educator based in Boston. His sacred music has been performed across the country by artists including the Grammy-winning quintet Chestnut Brass Company, Borromeo Quartet, pianist Charles Abramovic, Radius Ensemble, the New York Virtuoso Singers, and the Hermitage Trio. His opera The Prioress’s Taletoured New England for three seasons, presented by institutions wishing to explore issues of interfaith dialogue and peacemaking in a unique way. He recently founded Deus Ex Musica, an organization which explores the intersections of music and faith. He studied at Yale College (B.A. summa cum laude in music) and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. in composition), and also studied conducting at the Curtis Institute. He is currently Associate Professor of Music at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.