Saturday, July 31, 2010

Canon Read-Through Kicks Off Monday, August 2

Greetings, friends,

Starting Monday, August 2, we are going to start a Canon Read-Through of the Harry Potter books. We will start with Chapters 1 and 2 of Harry Potter and the {Philosopher’s/Sorcerer’s} Stone. We will read through the chapters, keeping in mind our goal to uncover the secrets behind the mythological, biblical and Christian symbols and themes that are scattered throughout the books. The following Monday, August 9, at 6:00 pm EDT (2200 GMT) we will come together to discuss what we read. We could do it by discussing it at the Secrets of Harry Potter forums, or to be more interactive, we could gather in the SQPN chatroom. We won’t be uStreaming this, but we could still discuss what we’ve read. Just mute the uStream video. It might be advantageous to have a Chatango account, but it is not necessary.

Hope to see you then! :)

On behalf of the Secrets of Harry Potter team,
Ariadna Quijano and Lyn Francisco

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

25 July - Ninth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 12

I have three lists for you today. These lists were for services from last Sunday.

I cantored the 7.45 am Mass at Immaculate Conception Church. Admittedly, I didn't write down the music Jane had played as organ voluntaries, but I can tell you that for prelude/postlude, she played music from Louis-Nicolas Clérambault and completely improvised the Communion voluntary. As usual, the numbers come out of GIA's Gather Comprehensive 1994 (green cover):

Sunday 7.45 am Mass: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Processional Hymn: 662, Christ is made the sure foundation (ST. THOMAS)
Gloria: 176, New Mass for Congregations (C.T. Andrews)
Psalm: Psalm 138 (Guimont)
Gospel Acclamation: 177, Mode VI; Verse to Tone 6F ("You have received a Spirit of adoption, through which we cry, Abba, Father.")
Offertory Hymn: 681, Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service (IN BABILONE)
Sanctus: 180, People's Mass
Memorial Acclamation, Amen: 181-182, Danish Amen Mass
Agnus Dei: 184, Agnus Dei XVIII (in English)
Recessional: 642 Jesus, lead the way (ROCHELLE)

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church where I played the usual 10.30 am service. As usual, the numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist Rite II
Prelude: Three settings of Vater Unser in Himmelreich (chorale by J.S. Bach; J. G. Walther, J.-P. Sweelinck)
Processional Hymn: 47, On this day, the first of days (GOTT SEI DANK)
Trisagion: S-100, New Plainsong (Hurd)*
Psalm: Psalm 85 (Simplified Anglican Chant)
Sequence Hymn: 615, Thy kingdom come! on bended knee (ST FLAVIAN)
Offertory Hymn: 341, For the bread which you have broken (OMNI DIE)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert/Proulx)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Communion Hymn: 711, Seek ye first the kingdom of God (SEEK YE FIRST)
Recessional Hymn: 518, Christ is made the sure foundation (WESTMINSTER ABBEY)
Postlude: Improvisation on Westminster Abbey

* The supply priest du jour, Fr. Berry Parsons, had questioned me after the service why we did the Trisagion. My response was that it was by request from the previous Vicar. He very strongly suggested that we switch back to the Gloria because Trisagion is more suggestive of Lent. Admittedly, I agree with him, and would be more than happy to make the switch back. (Note: Fr. Berry is an organist by training and education, so I would definitely take what he says seriously: he'd been at it for longer than I've been alive. :) )

I would like to get the opinion of my organist friends in cyberspace: At what tempo do you usually take the Sanctus from Schubert's Deutsche Messe? Hymnal 1982 gives a MM of quarter=72. I've been told taking it at that tempo makes it sound like a dirge. Comments, feedback, etc. welcomed. Thanks!

I played the 4:00 pm service for Carol Woods, which is organised by Chapel of the Cross. The music list would generally resemble the 8.00 am summer morning Rite I services.

The music list:

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist Rite I
Prelude: The Lord's Prayer (A. H. Malotte)
Processional Hymn: 680, O God, our help in ages past (ST. ANNE)
Psalm: Psalm 138(recited)
Gradual Hymn: 660, O Master let me walk with thee (MARYTON)
Offertory Voluntary: Improvisation on "Seek Ye First"
Communion Voluntary: Vater Unser in Himmelreich (chorale by J.S. Bach; J. G. Walther)
Recessional Hymn: 652, Dear Lord and Father of mankind (REST)
Postlude: Vater Unser in Himmelreich (J.-P. Sweelinck)

This was the first time the Rev. John Keith was at Carol Woods, so there were a few differences ... all verses were sung ... there were no bulletins from the 8.00 am HE Rite I from the church.... He had brought his wife along with him and introduced himself to the people who were there. I think he was well-received.

This lot certainly got immersed in "Our Father in Heaven" concepts: from the Gospel reading to the sermon to the voluntary music I played. Just on a whim, I decided to play the Malotte "Lord's Prayer" as a prelude. I'd received a request from a person at St Joe's for us to do that as our setting of the Lord's Prayer... I'm resisting because when I played it as prelude, to me, it had the feeling of more as voluntary music than as music one would use during worship. Maybe I feel this way because I did not grow up with this piece. It's as foreign to me as ... a Romanian lullaby.

As for the recessional hymn: I know that one much better to Repton. This one... it's very unfamiliar to me, so I sight-read it. I guess I must have been convincing because Fr. John had complimented me on the way I played all the hymns. He said he felt the people there would know that particular hymntune better. And they did sing the hymn pretty well.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Prayer for Cancer

H/T to Jean Heimann at Catholic Fire blog. As I watched this short video, I thought of my sister-in-law, Grace, and her mother, Beny Torneros, who is battling cancer.

This is for you, Tita Beny. My prayers and my love go to you with hopes for a positive outcome.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

18 July - Eighth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 11

Sigh. I'm so inconsistent. FWIW, here is my list from this past Sunday. I only played one service... and took a nice, long 'post-liturgical' nap for afters. ;)

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church where I played the usual 10.30 am service. As usual, the numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist Rite II with Baptism
Prelude: Allegro from Sonata for flute and continuo No. 6 in E Major, BWV 1035 (J. S. Bach); Deborah Decker, flute
Processional Hymn: 48, O day of radiant gladness (ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVÖGELEIN)
Psalm: Psalm 52 (Simplified Anglican Chant)
Sequence Hymn: 440, Blessed Jesus, at thy word (LIEBSTER JESU)
Offertory Hymn: 495, Hail, thou once despised Jesus! (IN BABILONE)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert/Proulx)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Communion Hymn: 488, Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart (SLANE)
Recessional Hymn: 336, Come with us, O blessed Jesus (WERDE MUNTER)
Postlude: In dir ist Freude (BWV 615; Bach)

Little Isaac Geoffrey Decker was baptised. His father, Joel, sings in the choir, and his grandmother, Deborah, played the prelude. Congratulations, Decker and Eubanks families! :)

Fernando—på svenska

I was working the queue earlier and decided to have a bit of ABBA playing in the background. And yes, I happen to like ABBA. (They made for great driving music when I went to and from Washington, DC earlier this month.)

Somehow, I came across the fact that one of the members, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, recorded 'Fernando' in Swedish, which appeared in her album, Frida ensam ('Frida alone').

I've always liked the English version. In fact, I remember playing the 45 rpm single quite often when I was younger. I've embedded the YouTube video of the Swedish version below. It's disconcerting listening to it and watching the video as they are singing in English in the video, but if you can get past that... well, for me, I found the song to be very beautiful, and the translation was very helpful. (It's quite different in English.)


Secrets of Harry Potter Episode #59: Respect

Episode #59 of The Secrets of Harry Potter is up and available. You may listen to it here or subscribe via iTunes.

In this episode we continue our discussion about outcasts in the world of Harry Potter.

Help us spread the word about this podcast by posting a review on iTunes!

If you want to interact with the host and his cohorts, feel free to pop over to SQPN Live when we're recording or leave a comment on the Secrets of Harry Potter page over at the brand new SQPN community page. :)

You may also send us feedback on harrypotter [a t.] sqpn [dot] com

Enjoy! And please let me know what you think of it. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Spammers, you are very lame, indeed.

It's just a little irritation that some spammers from China (or Taiwan or somewhere similar) keep leaving junk messages in the comments box. I think I can speak for Tyler when I say that neither of us are interested in your scandalous pr0n sites.

It seems apparent that the captcha thing is not effectively preventing the spam from posting. Therefore, comment moderation is on. Please don't let that deter you from commenting on any of the posts you see here.

I know—my friends are telling me to abandon Blogger and go to WordPress. Maybe one of these days, I'll do it.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Canon Read-Through and Community Participation in SoHP Podcasts

Greetings, friends!

Your humble Secrets of Harry Potter panel members have decided that a great way to get the community involved in the future direction of the podcast was to host a HP canon read-through, from the very first line of book one through the very last line of the (*gags*) epilogue.

We are aware that there are other communities doing similar read-throughs, but their purposes might be very different than ours. We hope to have an eye towards having a community discussion analyzing canon in a quest to uncover the secrets behind the mythological, Biblical, and Christian symbols and themes.

This will ultimately lead towards the restarting of a new phase of the Secrets of Harry Potter podcast, which we hope will happen on or around 1 September. We would dearly love your participation in this endeavour.

Please reply to this post and let us know of your interest. We will then decide when would be a good time to meet and discuss what we’ve read. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do it on the SQPN Live page.

Thanks for your continued support!

Lyn F.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Post-Convention Concert: Jeremy Filsell

This comes courtesy of Bob Herring of Arlington, VA via PIPORG-L.

Jeremy Filsell worked his magic with all six Vierne symphonies in a post-convention concert last Friday, July 9, at St. Patrick's in the City.

This concert was recorded (unlike the others that occurred during the convention, thanks to the admonishment not to record anything for posting on YouTube, Facebook, etc.), and the YouTube video will be embedded below.

Before I do that... I'll admit that I only had the chance to hear this lovely organ once, and that was during Morning Prayer that took place at St Patrick's. The organist, Ronald Stolk, had done wonderful improvisations on the antiphons that occurred before and after the Psalms that were chanted by the choir and people.

Here is a YouTube video... according to Bob, this will be the first of several.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Secrets of Harry Potter Episode #58: The Outcasts

Episode #58 of The Secrets of Harry Potter is up and available. You may listen to it here or subscribe via iTunes.

In this episode we talk about outcasts in the world of Harry Potter, and why their role is essential to the development of the story.

Help us spread the word about this podcast by posting a review on iTunes!

If you want to interact with the host and his cohorts, feel free to pop over to SQPN Live when we're recording or leave a comment on the Secrets of Harry Potter page.

You may also send us feedback on harrypotter [a t.] sqpn [dot] com

Enjoy! And please let me know what you think of it. :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

AGO Convention--The Grand Conclusion

I was too tired to blog on this last night, so I'm summing up the last day of the AGO 2010 Convention a day later.

I had an early morning... catching an early bus to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where James David Christie was going to play a recital in the Crypt Church. We did experience a bit of bus!FAIL (and it's not such a surprise anymore, unfortunately...) since we were the second bus to leave, yet one of the last to arrive. The bus driver went on for about 15-20 minutes. I wasn't paying attention to where we were going because my face was buried in the newspaper, but much to my surprise, when I looked up, we were driving past the hotel. I frowned at that, and my fellow passengers were mumbling, hoping we weren't going to be late for this recital that started at 9.30 am.

Luckily, we got there in plenty of time, so we went down to the Crypt Church. The 8.30 am Mass was still on-going, so we waited in the Narthex. It was really beautiful down there. So nice and peaceful... when people weren't talking loudly, that is.

Finally, the Mass was over, and the Blessed Sacrament was brought out in a monstrance. Then the organists filed in.

I was off in one of the transepts, but facing the organ directly. (I also tripped and fell over a step... people were concerned, but I said I was fine. David Arcus was there and ensured I was fine... I told him about my former jiu-jitsu training and how we were taught to fall correctly so as not to hurt ourselves...)

We then settled in to Christie's program. I'll post it later when I get home. But it was a good one, and he played some really nice pieces.

Right after, I caught a bus to the Church of Mount St. Sepulchre and Franciscan Monastery. It's a beautiful place, and that was where Matthew Glandof and The Six collaborated in an improvisatory concert. This was beautiful... improvs on Te Deum laudamus, Kyrie, Gott Vater, the Magnificat chanted in Tonus Peregrinus, O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden, and Salve Regina. I wondered if the improvs were planned or done on the spot. I was with Tim Baker and Mark Gourley, and they said it had to have been planned, and they probably rehearsed beforehand. However, chatting later with Van Quinn proved that was not the case. He knew some of the singers because they sing with his daughter, Molly, and will be going on a tour of France later in the summer. He said the singers were scared stiff because it was all to be completely improvised. They even improvised the harmonies in Salve Regina!

That just made what was an amazing performance even more amazing, in my opinion. It was truly glorious, and the space was just amazing. Unfortunately, when I saw the 'hymnal' in the pews, my enthusiasm diminished a bit... OCP's Breaking Bread. :P

Yeah, I'm showing my biases.

We took a bus back to the hotel, but we didn't have time for lunch before the afternoon workshops, so I just got some snacks and went off to a really good choral reading session with ECS Publishing and Oxford University Press. There were way more people present than they expected, so not everyone was able to get a packet of music. But it's given me some great ideas for my group. :)

I will admit that I skived off on my second meeting (Region IV meeting) so I could chat with my cousin to make plans for the rest of my weekend. Plus, it was nice to just rest and relax before the final event.

I ran into Joe Sco and we chatted for a while before I met Tim Baker and Mila Karamushka for dinner. Mila wasn't going to stay for the final concert and was planning to drive back home to Durham. So we had Japanese for dinner... Mila had a dragon sushi (really nice presentation), Tim had pad thai and a spicy salmon roll, and I had a dish called katsudon, which is a fried pork cutlet and scrambled egg on top of rice. It also came with a nice bowl of miso soup.

It was a nice filling meal before we headed back to the Basilica to watch the Closing Concert. It started with a prelude of Carillon music, but I was very disappointed that people were talking over that, so I wasn't able to appreciate it very much. Whatever I did hear of it sounded great, and Basilica Carillonneur, Robert Grogan, did a great performance... what I could hear of it, anyway...

The concert was wonderful, but went on for a long time... I think it went on for a little over two hours. There were a couple of pieces performed that were commissioned by the basilica [Tota pulchra es (J. MacMillan) and Salve Regina (O. Latry)] as well as a piece that was commissioned for this convention (Three Psalms by David Hurd). It concluded with an improvisation on four themes by David Briggs.

The Choir of the Basilica and the Washington Chorus sang in this concert, and they were wonderful. I'll have to admit though, during the third Psalm in the Hurd piece, I had a difficult time following the choir, and the only thing I was able to hear clearly was "for his mercy endures for ever" from Ps. 136.

There was an interesting problem at the beginning of that Psalm... it's supposed to use both the gallery and chancel organs. I'm not sure what the problem is... there was a lot of speculation as to what may have happened. The opening chords to introduce the first Psalm was played on the gallery organ... and then nothing. The conductor, Julian Wachner, threw up his hands, wondering what was going on. I was sitting towards the middle in the nave, so I couldn't hear what he was saying, but there was nervous laughter in response to whatever it was he was saying. I'd noticed some movement up near the chancel organ, so I even wonder if the chancel organist (in this case, David Briggs) was even up there when the gallery organist (Renée Anne Louprette) started playing.

After a while, whatever was the problem was solved, and the piece began again.

Latry's setting of Salve Regina was just spectacular, listening to the choir chant individual lines whilst the organ would play alternately. The end, O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria, the women were chanting it, and the organ was softly accompanying them. It was a wonderful finish to a wonderful piece.

The closing improvisation was wonderful, too. David Briggs improvised on four themes:
  • America
  • a Spiritual called "Wade in the Water"
  • Simple Gifts
  • Lasst uns erfreuen
And it was a fantastic improv and a marvellous way to end the recital and the convention.

It was nice sitting at the recital with Van and Peggy Quinn and Tim Baker. It was interesting hearing Van's recollections of a concert 30 years ago when Olivier Messiaen played the world premiere of his Méditations sur le Mystére de la Sainte Trinité.

We took the bus back to the hotel, but by the time we got back, I was so tired, I didn't feel like doing anymore socialising, so I went straight back to my room and fell into the bed.

It was a wonderful convention, and I'm very glad I went. Hopefully, I'll be able to attend other conventions. Regional conventions will happen next year, and I believe the one for Region IV will be in Greensboro, NC. The next AGO National Convention will be in Nashville, Tennessee in 2012.

So that's it for now. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

AGO Convention, Day 4--Heat Exaustion

We just finished the penultimate day of the AGO Convention. The heat characterised this day more than anything. And there was a bit of bus!FAIL once again.

We began with breakfast, a jazz duo (Joe Utterback, piano; Irvin Peterson, saxophone), and the AGO Annual Meeting. It was an early morning, but a nice plated breakfast (two sausages, two strips of bacon, scrambled egg, hash-browned potatoes, orange juice, coffee/tea) awaited us.

I will admit--I didn't stay for the whole thing. They were running late, and I was keen to join the queue to catch the bus for the Wednesday morning prayer services. The ones I attended today: African-American worship at Shiloh Baptist Church and Roman Catholic Morning Prayer at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Admittedly, we were even wondering if we'd be able to get there. Traffic was blocked because of an oil spill. No, it was nothing like the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the local news, around the 5.00 am hour, a truck was leaking used restaurant oil on the street, and cars and other vehicles were spreading this oil to side streets and alleys. Many roads were shut down to all vehicles (including bicycles) and pedestrians whilst street sweepers lay down their sand and swept the mess away. Apparently, the streets will still be treated with a water soluble degreaser, which should get rid of residual goo.

Anyway, we managed to make it on time to Shiloh. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I can see why this type of music has an appeal--it works in this context. The music was gospel in style, but done very, very well. The choir was consistently under the pitch, though, and the soloists had warbles, not vibratos. Besides that... the organists were brilliant, the musicians were brilliant, and it was a great experience.

Morning prayer was a treat. The church's acoustics are excellent and very much conducive to chant. It was a real treat to hear the voices lifted up in chanted prayer. The organist was improvising on each antiphon. For me, it was a very uplifting experience.

I ran into Joe Sco, and we sat together for Morning Prayer. After that, we had lunch in Chinatown. The restaurant offered a great deal on dumplings (10 for $5.95), but I went for the home made noodle seafood soup. It was a very filling meal. We both trudged through the triple-digit heat and onto the Metro and rode back to the hotel for the afternoon breakaway sessions.

In the afternoon, there were a series of concerts to choose from. I chose Carol Williams and jazz ensemble at the National City Christian Church. It was interesting... people criticised Williams' decidedly skimpy dress... but honestly, David Arcus has a point: it truly doesn't matter what the performer is wearing. It's the music that counts. And I totally agree with that. So what if you can see Williams' bare back? One could also criticise Faythe Freese's choice of dress. You could also see her bare back as she was playing.

Enough of that. Both of those ladies performed works that were commissioned for this AGO convention. Williams' program was definitely jazzy. She also performed some music on a Hammond that was there. I was lukewarm to that. I'm not really a fan of that sound. It all sounds the same after a while, IMHO. Her encore was interesting, but the purists were not keen on it. At first, I thought she was playing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d minor (yes, the overplayed one) at breakneck speed, but as it turned out, it's a composition called "Swingin' Bach" arranged by Porter Heaps and Lloyd Norlin.

I was more keen on Faythe Freese's program. Naji Hakim's "To Call My True Love to My Dance" was a very charming piece and contains ten variations on a Danish song, 'Vil du danse med mig?'.... the commissioned piece, composed by Craig Phillips, was performed by a quartet (clarinet, oboe, French horn, bassoon) and organ. I'll have to admit--I thought the horn overpowered all, but despite that, it was a lovely piece.

Sigh. I almost wished I decided to see Isabelle Demers instead. I heard she played a most excellent program, comparable in skill and such to that of David Higgs, who played the night before. Oh well. I'm sure there will be a next time.

Here was bus!FAIL: despite the announcement that the organisers didn't want us walking out in the heat so they would provide buses to take us to our next destination, that didn't happen... there were buses to take people back to the hotel, but no buses to our next destination. A group of us decided to walk to the next church, but it was bit of a hike. By the time we got to the next church, I was drenched in sweat, hot, tired, and bothered. All the water in the world couldn't quench the thirst or chase away the heat exhaustion. But definitely, Freese's concert was worth trudging through the heat for. :)

Lastly: gala banquet with entertainment provided by the Capital Steps. I will admit, I haven't really been paying much attention to the news lately, so most of the jokes went over my head. They were political in nature. Admittedly, I was kind of relieved it was over.

Another friend had missed the gala altogether because he was heat-exhausted (as the rest of us were) so he slept. He noticed that most of the organists on his f-list were on Facebook during the performance, leading him to ask Joe Sco and me, "Was it really that boring?"

The Capital Steps did set the audience to laughter, so I guess is wasn't that bad. I guess I just didn't get the jokes...

Afterward, I went around to the exhibits. When I told the people manning the AGO headquarters booth I was an officer for my local chapter, they were very happy to talk to me. Apparently, there is some sort of a drive to increase membership as well as to try to attract lapsed members back to the Guild. I'm sure I'll learn more later... I also tried to look for items from a friend's wish list, but alas and alack, all the titles were gone. I did get a few things for myself: Michael Bedford's lovely Variations on Le P'ing and the Oxford Book of Flexible Carols.

People I saw: I finally met Ryan Lynch in person. We've been communicating with each other for years (and that's also how I knew Joe Sco and Nick Basehore), so finally, the four of us were in one room together. It was wonderful to see them all! I also got a chance to see Ben Hutchens and Jason Gottschalk, who just returned from a tour of the UK. I haven't seen them since they left Durham (they now live in the Metro DC area) so it was a treat to chat with them both. I was a blatant fangurl and got Michael Bedford to sign my copy of Variations on Le P'ing ("My autograph costs $10.00, but because it's you, Lyn, that will be $8.00," he said with a smile and a wink). I spent a bit of time with Mila Karamushka during the gala. At the exhibits, I ran into Laura Ellis, Janette Fishell, the Quinns and the Arcuses in passing. Of course, during breakfast and the gala dinner, I met other organists, including a group of four young men who play for various Roman Catholic churches up and down the East Coast. One of those young organists is also in seminary, studying to become a priest, so he was wearing his cassock. They knew Joe Sco, and interestingly enough, also know the Dean of the Central NC chapter, Tom Fielding. Small world, indeed.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference, and it is another choc-a-bloc-filled day. I've been running a sleep deficit, so the sleep will be very welcomed tonight. More later...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

AGO Convention, Day Three—I has a Squeeeeee!!!

Day Three of AGO Convention. Well, officially, it's the second day, with it having opened on 5 July.

I decided not to set the alarm, especially considering how bone-weary I was feeling last night.

I was running late anyway... my first event was supposed to have been a Hymn Festival featuring the Cantate Chamber Singers, the National Brass Quintet, and the Hymn Festival leader, organist Bruce Neswick. It took place at the National City Christian Church. Since I ended up missing the buses to the Thomas Circle churches, I decided to take the Metro instead. It wasn't bad... I went in the middle of rush hour, so we were packed like sardines. Luckily, I only had to go two stops... and then hike over to Thomas Circle. Ordinarily, it's not a bad walk, but the weather was brutal: 102 °F/39 °C! I was so glad I had an umbrella with me—it was instant shade.

By the time I got to NCCC, the volunteers weren't letting anyone else in the church. He said the church had a capacity of 900 people. They squeezed ca. 1100 people in there. They also ran out of programs. I'd overheard someone saying they should have ticketed that event; they did not expect it would be so popular.

I just stayed in the Narthex for a while to cool down and catch my breath. I couldn't help but notice the doors leading to the sanctuary—they looked like they were covered in leather! I thought that was rather strange.

At least I'll have a chance to come back to NCCC—I'll be going there tomorrow afternoon for a recital featuring San Diego civic organist Carol Williams and jazz ensemble.

I ended up going to the next destination early—Church of the Ascension and St Agnes (Episcopal) Church and an organ recital featuring Diane Meredith Belcher. She played an excellent recital, featuring the work of William Russell (1777–1813), Robert Schumann (1810–1856, and yes, he did write music for the pedal piano, which translates well to the organ), and Percy Whitlock (1903–1946). It was an excellent recital! Interestingly enough, those who went to the morning recital told stories of how the loudest stop on the organ (Létourneau, 2000, most likely an 8' tuba stop on the Great) ciphered just at the wrong moment. Belcher just played right through it, and after she released her last chord, she immediately turned off the organ, and the offending pipe took a long time to stop speaking as the blower powered down.

Wow. When the organ ciphered on me whilst playing a service, I certainly didn't react as calmly as Belcher apparently did for that first recital. But she is an amazing organist; if you ever have a chance to hear her play, you really should take that opportunity.

I decided to switch my afternoon schedule. Instead of attending a pair of workshops back at the hotel, I decided to attend the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP) finals. So I met and had lunch with three delightful people. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch the name of two of them: Laura Ellis, who is Associate Professor in the School of Music at the University of Florida, and the Regional Councillor for Region VII, Michael Bedford, who is organist/choirmaster of St. John's Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We caught a quick lunch at Italian Gourmet and Deli on New York Ave, then headed off to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and the NYACOP finals.

Now this was interesting. Three finalists, and the judges sat behind a screen so they wouldn't know who the finalists were. They would only hear the finalists play... and identified them as No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3. They had to play five pieces: Bach's Prelude in E-flat, BWV 552/1; Schumann's Étude (Canon) in a minor, Op. 56, No. 2; Schumann's Fugue on B-A-C-H, Op. 60, No. 2, Elsa Barraine's Prelude and Fugue (No. 1) in g minor, and Herman Berlinski's The Burning Bush.

So I heard all these pieces three times. It was very interesting to hear each finalist's interpretation of these pieces. Also interestingly enough: I heard the Schubert Fugue on B-A-C-H four times! Belcher had also played it during her recital earlier in the morning!

The finalists: Susan De Kam, Annie Laver, and Dongho Lee. I was so very happy for Dongho when it was announced that she won both First Prize and the Audience Prize. Those who were present for the entire time were eligible to vote for the candidate they thought played the best recital. I'll admit, I was biased, but then in my opinion, Dongho played the best of all of them. I thought they all did a wonderful job, and I certainly did not envy the judges at all.

So Dongho: well done! And congratulations. Here is what she won:

  • The Lilian Murtagh Memorial Prize: $3000 cash award and career development assistance from Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc.
  • A CD recording on the Pro Organo recording label (and I would definitely buy her CDs)
  • A performance during the 2012 AGO National Convention in Nashville, TN

The Audience Prize was $1000. She certainly deserved this prize, and I'm thrilled to bits that she won it! :)

Heh. It would have been undignified to squee at that moment, so I'll do it now: Squeeeeeeeeeee! :)

Last event: St. Cecilia Recital at the US Naval Academy Chapel featuring organist David Higgs. First of all, the chapel is an amazing space. Just amazing. I was quite sorry I didn't have a camera with me. I'll just have to relive it through my Facebook f-list's photos...

That organ... zomg! Click here for more information about it.

I'll post Higgs' program later. Two pieces I definitely want to mention: the commissioned work, Gwyneth Walker's "Sanctuary" and the encore piece Higgs played, Albert Ketèlby's "In a Persian Market". The commissioned piece was a very charming one, and I enjoyed listening to it. (Actually, I wouldn't mind purchasing the sheet music if it's available.) The encore piece was chosen to showcase the theatre organ aspect of the Chapel Organ. And Higgs certainly did not disappoint with that piece. I will admit—I am not a huge fan of the theatre organ. I could only take it in small doses. However, this piece was so delightful, it's one I would not mind listening to over and over again.

Highlight of my Day: Definitely watching Dongho win the NYACOP competition. People I saw: Jacob Reed, a really nice couple from Dayton, OH... Lynn and Mike, I think... when he's not an organist, he does research with lasers (and there's the science and music connection again ;) ), Mila Karamushka, Laura Ellis, Michael Bedford, Andrew Pester, Dongho Lee, Andy Kotylo (the 2008 NYACOP second prize winner) and his girlfriend (I didn't catch her name), David Arcus, Beth... forgot her surname, but she and David Arcus had worked together with NCOI-related things, a really nice guy on the bus who is an organ enthusiast but doesn't play (he works with CBS in NYC), Van Quinn, and Robin Arcus. David, Beth, and I rode to Annapolis together and had a wonderful conversation.

Oh, and thanks to Beth, I was able to find out that the Netherlands beat Uruguay in World Cup action. Hup Holland Hup! I'm glad they beat Uruguay. I was pretty disgusted at the blatant handballs an Uruguay player (non-goalie type) was committing in order to prevent Ghana from scoring.

Okay, now I must sleep. I'll be going on a sleep deficit again, but at least I'll be eating a good breakfast—first event on tap is the AGO Annual Meeting, which includes breakfast for attendees. I figured since I'm on the e-board of my local AGO chapter, I might as well make an effort to attend this meeting. The free food certainly is a good enticement as well. :)

More later....

Monday, July 5, 2010

AGO Convention, Day Two

Ohhhh, I am so very exhausted. It was a packed day.

I didn't have time to find breakfast; luckily, Mila came to the rescue and gave me her sausage biscuit.

We were bused off to the Washington National Cathedral early in the morning for a convocation that started at 8.30 am.

It was wonderful. The Washington Symphonic Brass under the baton of A. Scott Wood joined organist Scott Dettra in a couple of pieces: Passacaglia and Arie di Corte from Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite No. 3 and the Finale: Allegro from Carl Nielsen's Symphony No. 3, Op. 27.

This was followed by a work commissioned for AGO 2010: Theme and Variations on "Le P'ing". It was the 2010 AGO/Holtkamp Award in Organ Composition. And it was lovely. There were six movements, and I really loved how the subtitles described the music very well! It also sounds accessible to the intermediate to advanced organist. (The last movement, Carillon, might be a bit challenging for me...) It's a piece I'll definitely be looking up.

Phil Snedecor had arranged hymns anthems, and the like for this Convocation. It was really nice hearing the brass and the voices and the organ. It was particularly satisfying to hear all sing joyfully "All creatures of our God and King" (Lasst uns erfreuen). I was rather lukewarm towards the commissioned anthem, "Exultate iusti" by Rihards Dubra. Dubra is a Latvian composer. There was an interesting mix... including one section where the choir was rapping the lyrics, accompanied by the brass. At that point, people were picking up their programs, wondering what that was. It was jarring, to say the least.

I am running out of energy, so I'll do a very brief summing up of the "Highlights of My Day" (with apologies to Mike Kuypers for steal—, erm, I mean, borrowing your line. ;)

Paul Jacobs was *amazing*, and he performed his program entirely by memory. You can see the joy he exudes when he plays.

Kimberly Marshall—with the exception of one piece I wasn't so keen on, I really loved her program and the way she related it to kings and the King of Instruments. Hers contained a lot of early Spanish and Italian composers. I really loved it. And she played on a Flentrop at St Columba's Episcopal Church.

The Bach Vespers Service... wow. That's all I can say. I was exceedingly disappointed the clergy creature did not chant the verse and collect nor the benediction in German.

Opening Concert featuring Barber's Toccata Festiva, Op. 36 and Paray's Messe du Cinquième Centenaire de la mort de Jeanne d'Arc was wonderful. Organist Dettra certainly earned his rest as he was involved with the opening convocation, the vespers service, and the opening concert.

More highlights: meeting Joe Scolastico and seeing Nick Basehore. Durham-Chapel Hill people I've seen: Van Quinn, Tim Baker, Mila Karamushka, Lewis Moore, Jacob Reed and his mother, Bob and Kathy Parkins, Andrew Pester (from a distance), Robin Arcus (also from a distance)... Still hoping to meet more of my Facebook f-list at this convention...

Major Lowlight of the Day: the bus service. Honestly: you promised smooth bus service from venue to venue, Organisers. Many people missed one concert or two because of your exceedingly unorganised service. I missed a workshop I really wanted to attend on Effective Conducting and Preparation of Amateur Choirs. That really made me feel very, very disappointed. Also, thanks to lack of time, I didn't have a chance to have a proper lunch, either. By the end of the second workshop, I felt I was ready to faint. Thanks to a couple of hard candies from the hospitality table, three pieces of pineapple from Tim Baker, and a small container filled with gummi bears, I was able to manage until I went off to dinner with the very delightful Tim Baker and Mark Gourley.

Last observation. I was really chuffed to see the churches here and their architecture, but most importantly, the inside of these churches. They look like churches, and you have the sense you are in a sacred space. Even in a more "contemporary" space like St. Columba's, you still know you are in a sacred space. I was drooling over St. Ann's Catholic Church: it really looks like a church, and I was happy to see that there was nary a Gather or any Oh-See-Pee products in the pews. That tells me they do excellent music at that parish.

I had immediately thought of my less than inspirational time at a Durham, NC Catholic Church that shall remain nameless. When I compare that church interior that looks more like an office cubicle than it does a sacred space to the churches I've seen here, there is absolutely no comparison whatsoever. That space pales volumes in comparison to what I see here.

If I feel up to it, I'll post concert programs here. I'll admit to being very amused to the pre-concert announcement of no pictures or audio or video should be taken: even the admonishment against recording to upload to Facebook or YouTube was emphatically expressed.

Bedtime. Another early morning tomorrow.

Darth Vader at the Washington National Cathedral?

It's true. H/T to John Woelflein via Nick Basehore's Facebook page.

Click here to read all about it.

Travelling to Washington, DC

I had a very interesting experience travelling to Washington, DC today. Perhaps I should have considered bringing in a sub to cover for me today. I should have known better than to try to travel to the nation's capital on, of all days, the 4th of July. *headdesks*

After I tied up a few loose ends, I finally started the drive to Washington, DC and the AGO Convention. Armed with Mapquest directions and plenty of water, I thought I should be able to make it in time to be all checked in and registered so I could see some 4th of July fireworks.

Alas and alack, it just wasn't to be. As I approached DC, much to my alarm, the exit I needed to take was closed due to the 4th of July festivities. So I took the next exit and wandered around until I found the Crystal City Marriott. I figured they might be able to figure out how to get me to my destination. A really nice person named Tony helped me sketch out a route to get to the Washington Wardman Park Marriott, which is where the convention is taking place.

After passing by a heap of cars and people lounging about, waiting for the fireworks to start (at 9.15 pm), I managed to find my way to the Key Bridge, which should, hopefully, take me to my destination. Not surprisingly, the road was crowded. Unfortunately, I missed my turn and had to figure out how to come back. By this time, it was already dark and I had a hard time reading the map. I took a wrong turn and ended up in the southwestern part of the city. (The hotel is located by the zoo in the northwestern part). I stopped at a gas station and asked a person there how to get back to where I needed to go. He simply said, "Make a u-turn and follow the road. It should lead you directly there." (I mentally scoffed.)

As I started, people stopped because the fireworks display was just starting at that point. A lot of the cars just pulled off to the side of the road, and the people left their cars to have a look. My thought: I'd already been riding around the city for at least 2 hours. It would be nice to find the hotel and settle in. So I saw some fireworks. Definitely heard them. Then I turned around, away from the fireworks and hopefully towards the hotel.

Interestingly enough, the road was eerily empty. I figured everyone was watching the fireworks. By this time, it was so dark that I gave up on reading the map. Somehow, I serendipitously found the hotel and pulled into the first entrance I saw. (That would be the bus entrance.) I flounced out of the car and towards the lobby.

The person who checked me in was sympathetic. Now here is where the squee-worthy stuff comes in. :) She said that because I am a Marriott Reward member, I get wi-fi for free in my room. :) I knew wi-fi was free in the lobby, but it was an added bonus to have it free in my room.

Speaking of the room... Oh. My. Goodness. She said she upgraded me because they were running out of space. So my room was in the Wardman Tower. I walked in... and it looked like a luxury apartment! I walked into a foyer. Further exploration revealed the bedroom with a very comfy-looking king-sized bed, a walk-in closet, a very spacious bathroom, a living room/dining room (!!!!), and a kitchen, complete with refrigerator, stove/oven, microwave oven, dishwasher, and coffee maker...!

I was *gobsmacked*. She certainly wasn't kidding when she said, "Upgrade".

Admittedly, all of this made me realise just how useful a GPS or a SmartPhone of some sort would have been. I'm sure I would have been able to find an alternative route more easily if I had either. And yes, I still haven't a cell phone. Admittedly, an iPhone is really looking very good right now... so now I know what I'll be saving up money for.

I suppose I've gone on long enough. It's an early start tomorrow... well, later today, by the time I've finished posting this piece. It'll be the Opening Convocation at the Washington National Cathedral...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4 July - Sixth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 9

I have just one list for you today. Oh yes, and notice this list is actually being posted in a timely manner! Shocked? ;)

St. Joseph's Episcopal Church where I played the usual 10.30 am service. As usual, the numbers are out of The Hymnal 1982.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost: Holy Eucharist Rite II
Prelude: Ayre of Four Parts (J. Dowland); Introductory Voluntary (F. Linley)
Processional Hymn: 544, Jesus shall reign where'er the sun (DUKE STREET)
Trisagion: S-100, New Plainsong (Hurd)
Psalm: Psalm 30 (Simplified Anglican Chant)
Sequence Hymn: 474, When I survey the wondrous cross (HAMBURG*)
Offertory Hymn: 483, The head that once was crowned with thorns (ST. MAGNUS)
Sanctus: S-130, Deutsche Messe (Schubert/Proulx)
Lord's Prayer: chanted (S-119 in Hymnal 1982)
Fraction Anthem: S-169, My flesh is food indeed (Urwin)
Communion Hymn: 321, My God, thy table now is spread (ROCKINGHAM)
Recessional Hymn: 541, Come, labor on (ORA LABORA)
Postlude: 719, O beautiful for spacious skies (MATERNA); Adagio (Anon., from B. Owen's A Century of American Organ Music)

* Whilst rehearsing the choir, much to my chagrin, I had programmed two hymns that shared a hymntune (474 and 321) in the Hymnal 1982. So I made the decision to switch hymntunes for the Sequence Hymn, using Hamburg (#101 in the Presbyterian Hymnal). According to my spy in the congregation, he reported that people sang it heartily as they knew that particular hymntune. Interestingly enough, that particular hymntune is not in the Hymnal 1982. Hmmm.

My "nod" to the 4th of July was the closing hymn, "Come, labor on". I guess to me, it sounded rousing enough, plus it goes along with the message of the second reading (Gal. 6:1–16). At the last minute, I decided I wanted the choir and congregation to join me in the postlude, and the choir and I chose America, the Beautiful.

Admittedly, reactions to that decision were mixed. I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from several people. I also received negative feedback from a few people. There was a reason why I did it after the dismissal. As far as I'm concerned, to me, it's just a postlude that I had the choir and congregation join in. One of my Facebook friends (who shall remain nameless) did as his postlude an organ transcription of "Stars and Stripes Forever". And the music the organ sub at First Presbyterian Church in Durham was practising (and I assumed he played as his voluntary music during that service) sounded awfully patriotic to me. To my mind, there is no difference.

One could say I could have very easily programmed a nationalistic hymn *during* the service, but I really did not want to do that. I generally choose music that reflects the readings of the day. And yes, I actually read them whilst selecting music.

I have a lot of lists to catch up on. I'm assuring myself, really, that I'll eventually post them. (Not sure if anyone else is reading them... if you are, please feel free to weigh in and leave a comment.)

I hope you've had a great 4th of July.

Secrets of Harry Potter Episode #57: First Glimpse of the Deathly Hallows

Episode #57 of The Secrets of Harry Potter is up and available. You may listen to it here or subscribe via iTunes.

In this episode we discuss the first full length trailer of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Help us spread the word about this podcast by posting a review on iTunes!

If you want to interact with the host and his cohorts, feel free to pop over to SQPN Live on a Wednesday when we're recording or leave a comment on the Secrets of Harry Potter page.

You may also send us feedback on harrypotter [a t.] sqpn [dot] com

Enjoy! And please let me know what you think of it. :)