All posts by jupiterj

snow and some compliments


I guess I have a new compelling reason to write here. With Eileen staying in England for a few weeks, I literally have no one to talk to. I’m trying to resist slipping into hermit mode. So I thought I would yammer here a bit.

it has been snowing quite a bit here in Holland.

On Saturday I knocked down the huge ridges the sidewalk plow leaves in everyone’s driveway so I could pull out my loaner vehicle from Subaru to drive to the Farmers Market.

I didn’t drive anywhere yesterday. I trudged through the snow to get to church on foot as usual.

Today, the driveway is still full of snow. I have thoughts of walking to the library to pick up some holds there. I am resolved to clean the steps so that my equally elderly student can safely make it to my door this afternoon.

The choir seemed to enjoy singing John Tavener setting of Blake’s The Lamb yesterday.

Here’s the video I suggested to help them learn this lovely little piece. We sang it slow but not as slow as this video.

I have to say they did a fine job on it, mostly a cappella. I played compositions by Ad Wammes for the prelude and postlude. Here’s a video of the composer playing Les Cloche III which was my postlude. In this case, I went a bit slower yesterday but basically nailed it.

I received some interesting compliments yesterday. My violinist who used to attend Grace Church regularly years before I began as the music guy has been showing up occasionally for Eucharist. She was there yesterday and commented about the Tavener. I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was flattering.

This was especially satisfying in retrospect since often I can’t tell what other musicians think of my work.

Speaking of my work, Barb Anderson, a soprano in the choir and reader of this blog (Hi Barb!) said something nice to me yesterday that I barely registered at the time. I think it was in response to my description of Sarah Jenkins and Matthew Locke as artists. Barb told me that what I did (presumably at church) was art and that I was an artist.  Her husband, Scott, who also sings in the choir and reads this blog (Hi Scott!) concurred.

It was until later that it hit me what a huge compliment this was and that it helps to know that someone is sort of getting what I do (Thank you, Barb and Scott!).

I feel like my approach to church music is different from most other church musicians especially organists. I’m doing a certain amount of guessing since of course my colleagues are serving their own communities and not around when I lead services. This is one of the reasons Martin Pasi’s praise for how we pray at Grace blew me away since despite having eclectic tastes himself he is deeply embedded in the classical organ world.

My violinist yesterday was chatting with a previous choral director when she complimented me. The director said nothing. I was very flattered that my violinist chose to compliment in front of another choir director.

I think that  “less is more” in accompanying group singing.   I try to accompany a congregation the same way I would accompany a instrumental soloist or a singer. This means playing with people in  ensemble, listening (taking their pulse) and adjusting on the spur of the moment, all of which activity I happen to love.

I bogged down this morning over submitting music for next Sunday. It took me an hour or two. This included rewriting an old music note from three years ago (same readings, but some different hymns this time). But it’s done now.

the Library of Congress posted this video recently of an event back in December. Except for Michelle Miller who moderates at one point, I enjoyed this immensely and am planning to see what books I can get hold of related to some of the stuff I learned in this video.

Stumbled across this. I enjoyed this chat between Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry so much  I have already started reading my copy of  The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Opinion | The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an ‘Aberration’ – The New York Times

by Michelle Alexander. Important ideas about the relationship of mass incarceration to deportation.


This is actually a link to an interview of one of Leonhardt’s living students. I haven’t read it yet, but plan to do so.

books and videos


I met Mark and Leigh for lunch today In Grand Rapids  (Hi Rhonda, I know I said I was meeting them in Lansing but Leigh had to take her potter’s wheel to a guy in GR for some adjusting so we met in GR.) Mark chose a restaurant and it ended up being right across from the Subaru dealer.

I had to take my Subaru to the dealer. We have been having problems with our car’s security alarm going off randomly. I pulled the fuse so the horn doesn’t start blaring out at odd times. The lights still flash and the doors all lock when this happens. I made the appointment a few days ago so of course it quit doing it. The dealer doesn’t seem to be able to diagnose a problem unless it actually occurs while they are looking at it. So there are keeping it again for a while and providing a fancy dancy loaner to me in the meantime (2020 Subaru).

I took along a bunch of CDs including works by Vaughan Williams who has been doing for me lately. My choir is singing a Nunc by him soon. And of course new cars tend to have splendid sound systems. Fun.

I had some time to kill while waiting for Mark and Leigh so I went to Schulers bookstore which is not far from the Subaru dealer.

Yesterday, I ordered three books from Readers World.

Image result for the english bible king james version norton edition

I interlibrary loaned the Norton Critical Edition of the English Bible and decided I needed to own a copy. It comes in two volumes one for the Old Testament and one for the New. I checked out the cost and it turned out that purchasing paperback editions new wasn’t that much more. I ordered it from Readers World yesterday.

Image result for watchmen book deluxe edition

I also ordered a deluxe edition of Watchmen by Moore and Gibbons. As I reported in the last post, I have finished my second read of it and am planning a third. I thought I would like to have my own copy.

So today as I went into Schuler’s Bookstore I resolved only to look at used books. Unfortunately within minutes I had already found three books to purchase. I panicked and left before I found more. I found a relatively recent collection of Robert Bly’s poetry, Stealing Sugar from the Castle for five bucks in paperback,

Image result for stealing sugar from the castle robert bly

what looked to be a bio of Roddy Doyle’s parents by himself, Rory & Ita, for six bucks,

Image result for rory and ita doyle

and one hardback, A Company of Readers: Uncollected Writings of W. H. Auden, and Lionel Trilling from the Readers’ Subscription and Mid-Century Book Clubs.

Image result for A Company of Readers: Uncollected Writings of W. H. Auden, and Lionel Trilling from the Readers' Subscription and Mid-Century Book Clubs.

$7.50 for this one. Anyway, as I say, I panicked at how easily I found books to buy and left.

After a nice lunch with Mark and Leigh and the trek home I am safely ensconced in my house reading and practicing.

I watched most of this video this morning. Some interesting stuff in it. Apparently there is going to be a new version of the musical 1776 coming out. Lepore was involved with it which is reassuring.

David Bromberg is someone I admire. It was fun to stumble across this recent performance he did. There’s more of these on YouTube.

I watched this recently. Frankfurt is now on my list of writers to read.

I posted links to this writer. I asked Mark about her today since he is planning to take a writing seminar from her. Apparently, she doesn’t buy transhumanism and mounts a critique of it. I found her approach put me off a bit since it began by describing  her fundamentalist upbringing and education, her conversion to atheism, and her new found enthusiasm for transhumanism (which apparently she lost). I guess it’s my own fault for not having patience for her.

I had a similar experience when I tried to read her article in Granta. However, I did notice it was well written. I think most Granta pieces (essays, poems, stories) are usually very well written. Just my opinion.