the exhausted church musician muses on another monday morning

Daniel Pinkham (1923 - 2006)

Played a piece by Daniel Pinkham called “Postlude” as the postlude yesterday.  Oddly enough there was scattered applause after I finished this sharply dissonant and pretty abstract short piece. I have been playing Pinkham’s organ music since the 70s when I first began playing organ.

Oscoda, MI locator map

IN the 70s, I worked in a little Episcopal church in Oscoda, Michigan which looked out on the beach. I would sometimes prop open the door near the organ and listen to the waves as I practiced. There are a set of voluntaries by Pinkham that I learned then that when I play I still hear the fog horn from the nearby Lake Huron.

I’m feeling fatigued and emotionally drained. Pretty typical for a Monday.  Yesterday at church, someone was very nice to me who usually doesn’t speak to me or notice I’m around. Very weird. Also after service a visitor introduced himself to me as a truck driver from North Dakota. He said that he has attended hundreds of Episcopal churches around the country as he travels. He was a slight almost elderly looking unshaven man in a rumpled light brown suitcoat. I thought at first his tie was an American flag design but when he came closer I could see that it was just a wild mixture of muted colors.

He told me he keeps a journal in which he records his church visits and saves the “pew handouts” (He waved his bulletin at me when he said this).  He said that each church has things that are “special” about it and that if he was a writer he had lots of material with which he could write stories.  Little did he suspect that he, himself, was becoming fodder for my daily blog post. I tried to make him feel welcome but couldn’t help but wonder why he came all the way over to the music area and introduced himself to me.  Just sharing his presence, I guess.

This week will be pretty strenuous for an old guy like me. I have ballet every day with some shifts to allow for the performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On these days I will be working a bit later (5:30-6:45) and playing for the warm-ups for the dancers who choose to warm-up in a classical ballet way for the evening’s performance. On Friday evening, Eileen and I have tickets to see the performance. We are planning to meet downtown and go for drinks and food. Then see “Dance 37″ as they call this dance extravaganza.

The”37” represents the number of years they have been presenting a dance performance from the Ballet department. My guess is that is probably about how old this young department is.

Wednesday of this week is Ash Wednesday so I have a service to play that evening. Am planning for the choir to sing a lovely three part setting by William Byrd, “Attend mine humble prayer” [link to pdf of the music]. The choir doesn’t know this as well as I would wish. This piece was a bit of turning point for me this year. I realized that I would be more prudent to pick music that could be done well with far less preparation than a piece like this.

I will double the vocal parts on the piano Wednesday and it will probably not be a train wreck. I will shoot for a musical performance (when musicians say “musical performance” they mean one that not only includes a rendering of the notes and rhythms accurately, but also draws the listener in and past the notes to the beauty and meaning of the music…. not always that easy but always the goal of a good musician or musical organization like a choir). But will actually be satisfied if the performance is not a poor one.


‘What I Really Want Is Someone Rolling Around in the Text’ –

The Millions : A Year in Marginalia: Sam Anderson

Two articles about writing in books. The first led me to the second.


Language Log » True Grit isn’t true

I loved the Coen brothers version of True Grit.  Article on the lack of contractions in the movie (do not instead of don’t) and it’s authenticity.


IMF, the Real Dictator in Tunisia | The Media Freedom Foundation

IMF = International Monetary Fund.


whereslibya The Big Payday at Your Expense   Libya and Gas Prices

The Big Payday at Your Expense – Libya and Gas Prices |

Gas prices spiking. This article asks “Can you find Libya among the top fifteen nations supplying the United States with crude oil?” I love this site.


Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy –

I like the fact that my Mother’s mental health care workers are so conservative about her mood drugs. They prescribe them, but in low doses and monitor pretty closely. She sees her “talk shrink” this week.


Thurgood Marshall –

Little editorial on a hero of mine.


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