monday morning bitch session


I finished another chapter in Finnegans Wake this morning. This feels like an accomplishment. I now have recently read 9 out of the 17 chapters. Using resource material helps immensely. This morning I glossed over a section that Campbell presented an astonishing and beautiful explanation for.

I’m still stressed. The stress is deepening into interior thought and I’m being a bit more quiet (believe or don’t).

The last two Sundays I have felt that I and my volunteers have sort of “hit it out the park.” The quality has been high in execution. This past Sunday, I came up with a strategy in interpretation that helped singers sing like they understood the Latin text of “Tu Pauperum Refugium” by Josquin.

I just checked on YouTube and noticed that it indicates that I listened to six videos of this piece. They are marked “Already Watched” since I’m logged in on YouTube. I quickly listened to bits of them and realized that none of them are something I want to post here.

They seem to miss the meaning of the text and substitute ethereal sort of visceral interpretations that are beautiful but too objective for me after yesterday.

In order to help the choir sing with understanding (or at least appearing to understand what they are singing), I marked sections dynamically (loudness or softness) and with articulation (connected or less connected and even accented).

If we hit it out of the park yesterday and on the previous Sunday, I feel like I was the baseball. By that I mean both Sundays left me more depressed and deflated than usual.

The week has been stressful as well. Struggling to come up with new anthems at the last minute on the day of the rehearsal contributed to this. The difficulty of leading a rehearsal of head strong people who often miss my instruction.

There was an added difficulty this week. One of my tenors is a retired English Prof. Rev Jen has allowed him to proof the weekly bulletin on Thursdays. But he’s not supposed to make theological comments, only corrections.

This week he became very entranced with the concept that the anthem, “Tu Pauperum Refugium,” almost quotes Jesus’s comment that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

I submitted an English translation for the bulletin which he then proceed to reedit. I received an email from my office manager about it on Thursday. She said that she would hold off publishing until I had to chance to look at it.

This meant Friday morning found me not relaxing and recuperating but standing in the church office and trying to sort through this dude’s corrections.

I have a difficulty because people come at me like this, often in person, in ways I find very unhelpful. I stave them off (like that soprano in the Wednesday rehearsal this week).

But I also need to evaluate the content of their criticisms as well as the unhelpful emotional package of disapproval.

I am well aware that this is as much about my stuff as theirs. However, my feelings are genuine. The trick is to listen past the annoyance and take good suggestions.

This takes enormous energy, often laying in bed in the dark thinking and reevaluating.

Friday of this past week, I had to look carefully at the corrections the English prof made. In the end I decided he wasn’t seeing the same piece of music I was.

I mentioned to Eileen that my struggle with this man (whom I have known for a while) is that for him, his academic understanding trumps artistic aims. And for me it is the complete opposite even though I try to integrate scholarship into my understandings and performances.

And it takes emotional and intellectual energy and stamina.

3 thoughts on “monday morning bitch session

  1. Sounds like it’s time for another recuperative visit to Unadilla. Did you know that Unadilla is an Iroquois word meaning “a place of meeting”? Just sayin’

  2. Also, did you know that we named our house Brookwood? Leigh grew up on Brookwood Way in Mansfield. And this place fits the description. Need to get a sign for the driveway…

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