church music report


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I was very happy with yesterday’s music at church. Once again repetition in preparation paid off, both with the choir and the string trio. At Thursday’s rehearsal I asked the string players to play my pieces several times. First, in order to evaluate the realistic nature of scheduling them for performance in public in  a few days. Then after general agreement this was possible, simply repeating the pieces two or three more times in their entirety. Then on Sunday morning, we went through both the prelude and the postlude twice. This resulted in good solid performances.

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I did something similar with the choral piece. On Wednesday night a chorister who has skipped many rehearsals complained after I rehearsed Sunday’s anthem a bit perfunctorily. After all, this particular anthem was designed by me to be easy peasy. But as I usually do, I repeated the anthem at rehearsal. And then again yesterday morning in the pregame, went through it twice.

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The congregation was unusually attentive to the prelude. They were almost eerily quiet.

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After church I had an interesting conversation with a young parishioner. She approached me with the question: how did I learn to improvise the way I did? What kind of training resulted in what I did?

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This is a hard question to answer. I told her that I had started out as a rock and roll musician who had a strong interest in harpsichord music. That I built my harpsichord before attending any college in music. I told her that I had learned from college training in composition and music in general but what I did was a sort of mishmash which was largely “Pop” in nature (remembering that my cellist said my prelude piece reminded her of George Winston…. in a good way).

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I told her that young musicians these days were much more likely to improvise. I was thinking that my style of improvisation probably was not far from what these young musicians were now learning in school.

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She told me she was studying music education in school.  I asked her what instrument and she replied violin. She also said she would be interested in doing some playing during her summer break. I instantly told her that could happen. I think that would be fun.

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I need to take some time off today. This evening is a Worship Commission meeting. I anticipate these with a vague dread but usually they’re okay. I wish I could have a day off, but apparently Monday evening is the best time to get members together.

The Words We Use About Donald Trump – The New Yorker

I mentioned yesterday that I had this bookmarked to read. I read it this morning. The words are “crazy” (meaning not mentally ill, but irrational) and “lies.”

On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder |

This is a book mentioned in the previous link. It looks good.

There Is No Deep State – The New Yorker

Words and their meaning are taking a beating. It helps to keep reviewing history and actual definitions.

 This article sent me thumbing through my Mendelssohn. I do have one collection Fanny’s piano pieces which I have played through on numerous occasions. If you know Mendelssohn’s bio, you know that Fanny was the first person he showed his compositions to for intelligent criticism. In fact their obsessions with “Songs without Words” grew out of their playfully writing them as youngsters.  It is a shame that the social realities of their times deprived us of Fanny’s genius. Unfortunately, it seems that both she and Felix felt it was only appropriate for a woman to be a dilettante in music. But you can’t help but wonder what works she would have come up with given more freedom and time.

25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going – The New York Times

I read the NYT on my table app usually. Unfortunately, it regularly fucks up (by poor app design). I bookmarked this one to look at in a browser so I could listen to the dang songs.

A Refugee Crisis in a World of Open Doors – The New York Times

Book (Exit West) by Mohsin Hamid. Review by author I like: VIET THANH NGUYEN

A Novel Dwells on the Loves of Lovecraft – The New York Times

This sounds like a fascinating little book.

Hari Kunzru: By the Book – The New York Times

Another good collection of titles…. plus Kunzru handles language well here….

Blackacre by Monica Youn | Poetry Magazine

A poet Kunzru mentions…. this is a link to a long poem…. the title poem of the book he recommends

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