by Esther Warkov
On the same day John Schlenck’s passing was announced, a letter he’d written arrived in the mail. His letter illustrates just one of the many ways John extended himself to support Vedantists over the decade we were acquainted. In this instance, he was confirming support from Vedanta West Communications to facilitate the collection and publication of Vedanta inspired music. John generously offered to publicize the endeavor, collect donations, and help select songs for a songbook. He even provided tips on where musical treasures might be found around the country. John’s positive response (after consulting with his board) meant a great deal to me. Another example of John’s supportive and generous spirit is seen in his offer to read a manuscript of over 200 pages prior to publication and to review the finished product in American Vedantist.
American Vedantist and the online resources John created provide essential connection and inspiration for those of us who, for various reasons, did not regularly attend a Vedanta center. I relished receiving the journal and appreciated the opportunity to contribute. I especially wanted to write about John’s music because it was so original, inspired, yet not fully appreciated, I observed, by those who perhaps heard only a single composition. John’s music actually is quite accessible; one only has to make a little effort to hear compositions that appeal. For example, I especially appreciate his devotional Hymns of Yearning CD (with songbook) that can be adapted for congregational singing or at-home use, his Hymn to Holy Mother CD for its engaging and fresh musical language, his Inner Christ CD for its synthesis of Near Eastern and Western styles (deeply moving while driving through the desert!), The Illumined Self CD (non-dual texts), and Days on Earth CD, a sophisticated musical journey through the life of Swami Vivekananda, easily followed with the accompanying libretto. What a great opportunity to teach the life of Vivekananda to youth whose open ears will relish the dramatic musical language, replete with symbolism. For example, John reserved the unique 12-tone musical system for Ramakrishna’s equally unique message.
May everything John created to inspire communion with the Divine be preserved and made available to those who will benefit from his gifts!
Esther Warkov, Ph.D., lives in Portland, Oregon. She is a former member of WSMTA and SMTA. Esther is Founder of The Piano Connection. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org