I snuck over yesterday morning before Eileen left for work and got some organ practice in. I was so impressed with the videos of the group playing French Baroque music (one of which I posted yesterday), that I pulled down a bunch of music by Leclair, the composer, from the free online sheet music site I use (link to IMSLP).
Leclair is roughly contemporary to Francois Couperin and Bach. I guess I haven’t heard of him because he is largely a string composer. All of the music on IMSLP was for strings. A lot of it was for two violins and continuo which I found yesterday do quite nicely on the organ as trios. Not sure I would schedule them for use at church as organ pieces. I like them, but I think listeners would appreciate them more on strings or other instruments than the organ.
I rushed over to where I thought I was scheduled to accompany my first ballet dance camp class and discovered that I had been misinformed. One of the other pianists was scheduled. Relieved I came home and continued working on arrangements for my upcoming Aug gig.
Midday I met with a last minute groom picking out music for his wedding Saturday. I was bemused that he was wearing one of those blue tooth phone apparatuses. I do think they look silly. He kept hearing a carrillon like recessional. He wasn’t totally satisfied after I played him several and ended up asking me to do two: the Bell Symphony of Purcell that is sometimes used at weddings and a G major prelude for organ by Bach. Both of descending lines that sound vaguely bell like.
Back to working on scores at home. Then treadmilled before going to my second attempt to play for a dance class. This time I was expected. I do enjoy doing this once a year. Sometimes a teacher will talk to me about doing more work locally for dance classes. I always give them my number and sound interested. So far no one ever follows up. Some years ago the director of the camp told me I could make my living doing what was I doing.
It’s really quite simple. It helps to know some French and something about ballet. I picked up the latter by doing these classes. I watch the teacher give the instructions for the exercise, listening to what she/he is saying and also watching their bodies to get an idea of what kind of music would help the students dance the exercise.
It’s important to improvise in strict four measure phrases. I think of it something like marching band. My first few years I used classical music with some improvising. This is actually not quite as good as improvising and keeping an eye on the instructor as she/he continues to talk while the students go through the moves.
I say it’s helpful to know French because the classical ballet moves all have French names like échappé and plié. These two words litterally mean “escape” and “bent” but have specific meanings in ballet which I have picked up through observing.
One of the reasons I enjoy doing this is the discipline and etiquette that is traditional in ballet classes. It does my old heart good to see a room full of young people working diligently with their minds and bodies.
At the end of each class there is slow warm down called a reverence. It is a rehearsal of bows and includes touchingly a turn to the pianist with a bow. Cool stuff.
Here’s a couple more stories from my Dad’s 1989 Chronology he wrote.
Benjamin A. Jenkins [SJ note: my father Paul’s father] and family continued to live in Oak Grove, Louisiana, where he pastored the First Church of God… Dad was introduced as the “factory-made” preacher at the camp meeting in Louisiana since he was the first Anderson graduate [to serve in the area], a put-down he did not forget for the rest of his life…. Dad was also introduced to the Ku Klux Klan when one night a group of Klansmen fully clad in white hooded robes, entered the Sunday evening service, paraded to the front row, where they sat throughout the remainder of the service. It was a silent reminder to the Yankee preacher that he was in the South and would be expected to submit to the Southern ways … One of the Southern ways Dad had to accept was the pianist, a mother who nursed her four year old song as she played the piano. The child stood at the piano bench, nursing from her breast as she played [and] accompanied the congregational singing.
Paul Jenkins, The Jenkins Chronology
Ironic to be branded as “factory-made” and I wonder if it really bothered my grandfather as much as Dad thought it did.
I held revival meetings in Hamilton, Ohio; Athens, Tennessee; Erlanger, Kentucky; and Yazoo City, Mississippi.
[SJ note: revivals were nightly services which lasted about a week featuring a guest preacher… earlier Dad writes: “The call for revivals increased. The Church of God has a for a long time held young pastors in great esteem and being young, I was in much demand. I held meetings in Hickory, North Carolina; Meridian and Jackson, Mississippi; Danvill e and Madisonville, Kentucky; and Welch, West Virginia.”]
It was in Yazoo City that I felt the strong racism of the Southern white when the man with whom I stayed very boldly shared his hatred of the Negroes and [described] his friends raping a black woman. He thought it was funny. I nearly choked to think that a Christian could have such blind spots in values and thinking. (And he was a lay leader in the church there).
Paul Jenkins, The Jenkins Chronology
I had a heck of a time finding and scanning the family pictures in today’s post. I can’t find most of my pictures of Benjamin and Dorothy. They are here somewhere. Anyway, fighting my silly antiquated equipment (scanner and computer) took up too much of my morning. Onward.