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.

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