The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen hosts 10 high school graduations every year in addition to having our own Cathedral School 8th grade ceremony. While not all of the schools use the popular piece by Elgar, enough of them do that I’ve had to find ways to amuse myself while playing these short 32 measures over and over again. The longest procession for 270+ graduates takes 23-25 minutes! After my first rehearsal, I knew I would need to work out some pistons for different registrations, and I also thought about how to create other variations to keep my mind occupied.
The piece basically has a melody, chords, and a bass line. I have a right hand, left hand, and feet. Through the rehearsals and graduations, I have managed to become skilled enough to play any of the parts of the piece with any of my appendages. Thus you get the following video presenting the options:
Not a perfect rendition, but an exploration of the variety of ways I keep myself entertained when I have 10 graduations to play for each spring. First six presentations in order are:
1)RH tune; LH chords; Ped bass
2)LH tune; RH chords; Ped bass
3) Ped tune; LH Bass; RH chords
4) Ped tune; RH bass; LH chords
5) LH tune; RH bass; Ped chords
6) RH tune; LH bass; Ped chords
It’s not perfect and the solo trumpet is at the other end of the building, but I thought it might be entertaining for you to see how I entertain myself during this season of graduations.
What a delight it was Monday evening to hear the Bel Canto Choir from Gateway High School under the direction of Chris Barletta give the premier performance of my composition, The Chariot. Knowing that the students had only a few rehearsals to learn the piece, I was quite pleased with the result. Check it out for yourself by clicking the picture below!
Faith Is Like a Mystic Spirit
At the conclusion of the piece as I was walking off stage, I told Chris that I’d have another piece for the group to learn for the Gateway High School Baccalaureate. By the end of the week, I had sent him a score for a new text by John Dalles, “God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons.” Unfortunately, it seems I took the text’s references to “a bold challenge we can claim…at the edge of what can be” a little too seriously and wrote a piece just out of reach for the number of rehearsal left. So I found another text (also by John Dalles) and produced something a little easier: “Faith Is Like a Mystic Spirit.” I went over to rehearse the choir last Friday and am now looking to the premier of this piece at the Gateway Baccalaureate on May 25.
Finishing a Piece
So what happens with “God, Your Golden Doorway Beckons”? The piece is written. Will it sit in a drawer until next year? Any one else interested in giving it a go? I love the text so much that I decided to program the piece with the school choir from Holy Redeemer for the eighth grade Graduation Mass. We won’t be able to sing all the harmony parts, but the melody alone (with piano accompaniment) will still provide a lovely rendition of this end of school year text. I may not have mentioned it in last week’s discussion of the 5 Ws, but it’s very difficult for me to write a piece of music if there is no ‘When’ on the calendar. Also, when the piece requires more than just one person to perform it, I never feel like it is truly finished until I’ve handed the score over to someone else to perform. This is when I realize what part of the music doesn’t exist on paper, and what I still need to write down. Even this scaled down performance with the school choir from Holy Redeemer will give me that opportunity I need to experience the piece and satisfies that “W’ that went missing on me.
40 Days After…
Sandwiched in between the graduation pieces above happens to fall the Feast of Ascension (40 days after Easter) and the premier of “God Is Gone Up” written for Dr. Carl MaultsBy and the St. Richard’s Schola. This is the second piece I’ve written for St. Richard’s and will make three premiers in one week! What an exciting way to bring the month of May to a close!
With all this talk about the end of the school year, it must mean that summer is almost here. For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of accompanying the CFCArts Classical Choir in their summer concerts. This summer, I will be playing for the group rehearsals and concert as they prepare the Mass in C Minor (K. 427) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. If you are in the Orlando area, I encourage you to sign up and join the group. Rehearsals will be on Thursday evenings starting June 5. I was able to perform this work with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Robert Shaw while I studied at Westminster Choir College, so I am looking forward to doing the piece again now almost twenty years later.
Wishing you a happy and safe Memorial Day and a beautiful start to your summer!
Newsletter Issue 22 – 2014 05 20
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Written May 9-10, 2014 for the Bel Canto Choir of Gateway High School under the direction of Chris Barletta. The text is by John Dalles. Music is scored for three part women’s choir with piano accompaniment. It was one of two pieces written for use at the Baccalaureate service at the end of the school year. The piece celebrates the success of graduation while looking forward to all the possibilities and challenges of the future. It will be premiered (in unison) at the Graduation Mass for Holy Redeemer Catholic School.