a game that everyone wins

I sandwiched in bits of practice yesterday. Waiting for my Mom in Walgreens I managed to drive to my nearby church and ¬†rehearse a bit of Bach and Sunday’s music.

Most of the day was running errands. ¬†As per my instructions from the real estate people I called the utilities for my Mom’s house in Fenton to notify them of the sale yesterday.

In each case, they contradicted the real estate agents that the seller has to notify them (sooprise sooprise). I could have shut them off. But that seemed kind of creepy to the new owners. So I will call again in a week or so.

The triumph of the day for me yesterday was helping my Mom get an absentee ballot.

She gamely went to City Hall and filled out the forms and trundled out with one. This means she can vote easily. According to my research, she could have voted in Michigan without a picture I.D. She would have had to sign an affidavit in the presence of the election monitors that she has no I.D. I figure the people who staff these elections locally probably don’t know that and it would have meant another exhausting experience for Mom for me to accompany her and make sure she could vote next Tuesday.

Anyway, that little dealy is solved.

Apparently there is at least one car going from Holland to the Rally for Sanity in DC today as one of my Facebook “friends” mentioned he was dropping off his brother before they left. I “liked” it on Facdebook.

Yesterday I received my interlibrary loan copy of Calvin Hampton’s biography Calvin Hampton: A Musician Without Borders by Jonathan B. Hall. It is a blank looking white trade size paperback, the cover is covered by the paperwork from the interlibrary loan. It definitely has never been read before. The copyright was 2008 and it seems to represent a post-doctoral complete reworking of Hall’s dissertation.

I have read in it a bit this morning and it is well written and interesting. I haven’t decided if I will try to read this copy or purchase one of my own, yet.

I also have been examining organ music of composers new to me that I have interlibrary loaned.

I am quite enthusiastic about Pamela Decker’s composing judging from her Retablos volume.

Pamela Decker, composer

I will definitely be purchasing and studying her music although it seems to long for use at church.

Jean Guillou, composer. Cool hair or what?

Jean Guillou has also caught my attention with his Colloque no. 2 : pour piano et orgue, opus 11 (1964). This work is interesting but again not sure how useful it would be. But I will be on the lookout for his music as well.

I continue to find the daily improvising of music for ballet class interesting. It’s like an essay in thinking about melody in a limited way. Can I make something beautiful but simple enough for dancers to easily know where they are in it? Can I transform the mundane rehearsal melody into something transiently attractive? I especially enjoy the use of silence with a roomful of dancers. By that I mean little holes I leave in the rhythm which seems to assist and encourage them to enter a bit more fully into the music and dance. Very satisfying.

And of course I learn tons from my little fly on the wall position at the keyboard. Yesterday I pricked up my ears (love that phrase) when the teacher asked the class why they dance. She was encouraging them to build connection with the audience into their rehearsal despite its absence in the studio. She was dealing with the question that performance arts need an audience. How is this idea incorporated into preparation of students?

She emphasized a bit of humble “look at me” stuff. This might work for that age and skill level. I tend to think more in terms of energy and an invitation to an emotional conversation with an audience. Maybe this is just how you think of it if you are an obscure church musician whose music is often missed by people in the same room.

I tend to think of my experiences in the coffee shop, recitals and on the street as better examples of connecting with listeners. Maybe this is because I’m more sure they want to be there.

However Donald Hall, Hampton’s biographer, has a nice phrase about church and Hampton’s attitude toward it. He has a childhood memory of Hampton as “gigantic, gentle child, safe and full of fun, acting on the assumption that church is a glorious game that everyone wins.”

He goes on: “It is that child’s Hampton—playful Halloween monster and custodian of the greatest toy every invented—that continues to guide my own search for meaning in a church too much in the control of grown-ups.”

I find this charming and insightful. I agree with him about the grown-ups. Heh.

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