we’re all on shuffle now


This weekend I had several chances to perform in public. Reflecting on the performance of the Messiah yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that I had more misgivings about that performance than any other over the weekend. It’s more of a contrast because I would say that I enjoyed the other performances immensely. Although I appreciated the challenge of performing at the harpsichord for an hour and forty minutes in public, I found myself questioning the notion of doing all Handel (or anything else) for that long for a contemporary audience. Not to mention the Messiah one of the most familiar and repeated works in the repertoire (HALLELUJAH!). It reminds me of the Widor Toccata or the Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor (the Phantom of the Opera one). These pieces are good to perform. But using them as a showcase piece doesn’t work for me.

At the funeral on Saturday morning, I enjoyed performing classy organ music (Bach trios, Sweelinck upcoming variations), leading the congregation and accompanying a singer on Dvorak’s “God is My Shepherd.” Yesterday morning besides the usual pleasure of leading the assembly in song, I enjoyed even more the challenge of pulling together the choir to do a fine piece of choral literature that fit the feast like a glove (Quia vidisti me Thoma by Hassler) and 12 variations on “O Sons and Daughters” by Dandrieu.

After a shaky start in the choral piece we pulled together a stellar reading of it in the service. My variations went splendidly (if I do say so myself). I wish my teacher Ray Ferguson could hear me play in the French manner in which he instructed me on such a fine instrument.

Eclecticism has become a hallmark of my person aesthetic. As has respect for the changing audience ears. I use the Alex Ross story to help people. Alex Ross, the New Yorker music critic and contemporary music historian, noticed that when he first got his Ipod that when he put it on shuffle it would dance around throughout the dizzying array of musics that he like to listened to. He learned from that. “We’re all on shuffle now,” he observed.

So I think I will mention to Nick that I’m going to skip doing harpsichord for him next year. I’m sure he can find someone else to cover the parts. They are not that hard. There is some stylistic sophistication that is required. But I’m sure he knows a dozen people who could do it.

If my energy pie was bigger, if I was younger, I might just do it for the sheer joy of being included with some good musicians. But we were a bit under-rehearsed this time. I felt like enthusiasm was not as high the second year. It’s time for jupe to husband his resources and use his time left on the planet to do some more interesting things.

Nick and his priest seem to be presenting the “annual” Messiah as a culmination of the octave of Holy Week which I find confusing. I can think of a number of pieces that would serve that end more clearly. It would be cool if they would do the recital each year but change the piece. Nick could even write a piece and that would be wonderful.

But nobody asked me. So there you are. Once again renegade jupe sits in his Holland living room and wonders about shit.

Opinion | Why Authoritarians Attack the Arts – The New York Times

It appears increasingly certain that there is a method to the madness of President Trump. He is leading the country (and influencing the world) down the path of fascism and authoritarianism. The Sinclair group stuff is just one aspect of what he and his cronies are doing. This article covers another.

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