June 14 edition (published every Friday)

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Upcoming events:

June 15th private piano performance in Ohio 7pm

June 20  7 p.m.
"Which Way is Up?" piano concert at Sycamore Presbyterian Church,  
              11800 Mason Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45249


June 27 5 p.m. Organ Recital at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 
              2040 Washington Road  Pittsburgh, PA 15241 FREE

July 14   3:30 p.m. Organ Recital at St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh
             108 North Dithridge Street   FREE
This week's featured recording for Friday, June 14, 2019
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms by Marteau (b. 20th c.)
















 This week on the blog:    Friday, June 14, 2019
    

Cue the fiddle music

 













My dearest reader,

It has been nearly four days since a most unfortuitous calamity has sent me careening into the 19th century. The power cord on my computer has become irrevocably damaged and to such a grave extent that I fear for the continued necessary usage of my computer. I have had to subsist on all manner of borrowed electronic contrivances. Only my phone has stood by me during this time of severe trial. I hope, God willing, to regain the use of my computer if by the next post should come the new power cord which I have ordered sent to my current address. It will only be then that my regular mode of life shall be restored. Until then I shall be an unwilling denizen of times past when our race must needs have foraged for survival in an unkind environment.

I am in a pitiable state. ....






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classic blog from Friday, June 14, 2013

The year in Review

While the church year stretches from December through November, the active year runs September through May. For a large portion of my life I have been experiencing this rhythm as one enormous breath, in and out, relax a bit in the summer months, and head back for another intense academic year, beginning with the opening ceremonies of September, punctuated by Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, and finishing, exhausted, in June. Now that another such spasm of activity is in the rear view mirror, I need to process it--and, eventually, get a little rest.

Much of the year has gone by in the rush. The hymns, the anthems, the service music, perhaps remembered, perhaps not--we may visit some of it again next year as we plan. But the music I played on the organ for the services has been preserved because I recorded it myself--we don't record our services--which has the happy effect of reminding me, well after the fact, what some of that rush was about. For many congregants, what the organist plays is of no significance in a service, but to me, those musical offerings are an opportunity to offer to the community some of the best musical thinking of the past several centuries, from various parts of our great tradition, as well as the here and now. Fortunately, some in my congregation think so, too. More on that another time. For now, I pause on the landing to offer again some of the music I played this year. It is out of context this time, but it can live again in a new skin.
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There have been those times when after merely typing the title of a blog entry I am called away by some unexpected obligation. Does this happen to you? You have just settled in to make use of some stolen bit of time to go on a creative jag when some other member of the animal kingdom, on two legs or four (such as the one currently out to steal the milk from my bowl of breakfast cereal) makes a demand on your time which may only take a few minutes, a few hours, or perhaps change the character of the entire day. This poses a difficulty for creative artists trying to concentrate on something they are trying to produce, compose, write, bring forth, et cetera.

There are known obligations aplenty as it is, and it is often hard to negotiate productivity around these. Sure, I'll think crossly, Dmitri Shostakovich wrote 15 symphonies, but did he have to mow his lawn?
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Blogger, interrupted



Famed pedagogue Nadia Boulanger would tell her composition students, "Never strain to avoid the obvious."

I've always felt the key word there is strain. Despite getting bombarded daily with all the advice to keep things simple and to "just be yourself" (which might not be the same thing) and not to use 50 cent words when a penny word will do just as well because otherwise you are necessarily being pretentious, it seems to me a composer who only deals in the blatantly obvious ought to be writing greeting cards or making chitchat about the weather at parties, not stringing musical cliches together. We won't remember them anyhow.

But there is something effective about telling us what we already know, grounding us, reminding us of something obvious and important, if it is done well.

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