Friday, February 29, 2008

a real prayer

I'm working my way through a new series: Six Feet Under.

In a stunning and surprising scene towards the end of episode four, there was this prayer at the conclusion of a fallen gang member's funeral:

Merciful Jesus,
Please bring rest and peace to our fallen brother, son, friend, Manuel Paco Bolin.
May he live with you forever in your light and truth.
Almighty Father, Amen.

Then the gang leader prayed for the family of the funeral home (the stars of the series):

We also want to thank the Fishers, who lost a father, and husband, the Lord bring peace to them in their grief as you have in ours. We'll miss you . . .

I can't remember the last time I saw a real prayer said on a TV show or movie. It was moving and heartfelt . . . quite touching, at least for me.

Religion, especially Christianity, doesn't receive much favorable press these days. It's refreshing to see a series present it in a different light . . . one that shows the comfort faith can give humanity.

It's an interesting series and one that I think I'm really going to like.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why I have a new contact number

Check this out.

I first read about it a few months ago but decided to sign up as a beta tester. It should be pretty cool. When you call my new number, you can ring any phone that I designate as mine (cell, office). Or, if I decide, it goes immediately to voice mail and the voice mail message is emailed to me.

Me, I like email. I don't really like cell phone messages and I HATE texts to my phone (make note of that choir).

In other news, I heard the Concordia College Choir tonight. More on that later. They were fabulous.

New Contact Number


Use this number to contact me:



Monday, February 25, 2008

Open Thread


Overall, I was pleased with today . . . with the stipulation that it was a good performance in light of everything we've done and experienced the last several weeks.

Was it our best? No.

Was it the absolute best we could have done today? No.

Was it a good performance? Yes.

You are a fine choir and I am proud of your efforts today. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

STYX was a great suggestion . . .

Thanks to those who suggested STYX and QUEEN for the running music. I ran to them today along with my favorites Donna Summer and the Doobie Brothers.

Official photo

tours-trapped, originally uploaded by philipco.

This could be the official choir photo. You like?

Or perhaps, we just run a caption contest. Any takers?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Three great experiences, and a fourth to trump them all

What a great day.

Event #1: Listened to Nick Cummin's Chamber Choir. They were superb and I'm looking forward to hearing them again on Monday. Their literature:

Sanctus (Jan Sandstrom)
Jede Sedlak (I can't remember)
The Word was Made Flesh (I can't remember v. 2)

Event #2: Listened to Clay Chalkville Chamber Choir. They were superb. Their literature:

Fire, Fire (Thomas Morley)
Irish Something or Other (Craig Courtney)

The Courtney piece was really great. I hope I remember the title one day.

Event #3: The Movie Vantage Point. Wow. Great recommendation, Erin. It was a superb show and I haven't seen a car chase in a movie in many years. Action packed great drama.

And what trumped them all?

Laughing and saying sweet things to my daughters as I stayed with them until they fell asleep. We made up little rhymes, told little stories, held little hands, and giggled until sleep took them over.

It's a great life.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Monday's performance event details

Here are the details:

The UAB Department of Music and the Alabama chapter of the American Choral Directors Association is sponsoring the ACDA Invitational Choral Festival on Monday, February 25, 2008. The festival will feature performances from seven Alabama choirs from across the state. Dr. Jerry McCoy, nationally known clinician and incoming president of ACDA, will listen to each choir and provide comments after each performance. Both performing blocks will take place in the Jemison Concert Hall of the Alys Stephens Center and the UAB Concert Choir and Chamber Choir will perform at the conclusion of each session:

Performance Block 1 (12:00 – 2:00)
Smith Station High School Chamber Choir
Hewitt Trussville Singers
UNA Collegiate Singers
Simmons Middle School 8th Grade Choir
UAB Concert Choir

Performance Block 2 (3:00 – 5:00)
First Baptist Church Student Ensemble
Fort Payne High School Ladies
Mortimer Jordan Chamber Choir
UAB Chamber Choir

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Getting it going again

We're slowly becoming the choir we were before Brahms. Get well!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Happy Ending

The Brahms Requiem:

1. I'm glad we did it and that you all had the experience of another major choral orchestral work.

2. I'm glad it's over.

3. We've done several of the greats over the past three years:

2008 Brahms Requiem
2007 Verdi Requiem
2006 Mozart Solemn Vespers
2005 Handel Messiah

4. Next year we are talking about another great one: Orff's Carmina Burana. After that, we'll take a break. Major works are sometimes thrilling, but they certainly exact a toll from the singers and conductor.

5. Now . . . onward and upward. Comments welcomed.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Review: 3/5 stars

What does he know?

Here's the part about us:
With 150 singers compacted onto the Jemison Concert Hall stage with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra Friday, it wasn't easy to express those extremes -- musically, at least. Music Director Justin Brown did a fine job corralling the large flock, with only a few instances of uneasy ensemble noticeable. In that regard, the decision to leave the choral balcony empty was a wise one. But with more elbow room -- physically and acoustically -- a good performance of this romantic-era masterpiece could have been a great one.

Some of the finer moments of the work approached greatness. Driven by Brahms' moody, heart-wrenching melodies, the combined Birmingham Concert Chorale and UAB Concert Choir delivered warmth in "Denn alles Fleisch," the tenors belting out a startling "Aber des Herrn Wort." They hit their stride toward the end of "Denn wir habe hie," blending beautifully with the ASO brasses and strings. For the most part, though, sopranos were unfocused, the tenors weak.

So . . . the critical part . . . unfocused sopranos and weak tenors. One man's opinion and could be a function of where he was seated in the hall. The tenors, in fact, were pointed away from him. (he was sitting on the tenor side of the middle section on about the fifth row)

I think critics certainly have their place in helping us understand what we've heard . . . a little like political commentators after a debate. On the other hand, I know the audience showed their appreciation for about 3-4 minutes of sustained applause. Enough time for me to walk off the stage 4 times.

I felt really good about the work. There were a few unsteady places, a few truly powerful moments, and an overall excellent performance.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Great Job tonight

I thought Thursday's rehearsal (both day and evening) led to an outstanding performance tonight.

Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2/13 Vacation: No Concert Choir or Chamber Choir

Concert Choir and Chamber Choir are canceled tomorrow.

Get some rest.

Do your homework.

Class resumes Thursday at regular time.

The Whole Playlist

I got several comments about the Half Marathon list and decided to post the all the music I ran to . . . with indications about whether the music was:

a favorite while running
something I like
something I like but wasn't particularly great on this particular run

Feel free to suggest your favorite running music.

Monday, February 11, 2008

PF Changs: Fast and Fabulous Food, Slow Check

I thought the rehearsal was great tonight. I thought we handled the trouble sections really well.

I was late for rehearsal, along with the other students who ate at the incredible chang.

For my punishment, I will dismiss rehearsal 7 minutes early tomorrow . . .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We did it!

Running Partners Extraordinaire, originally uploaded by philipco.

Dr. Gainey and I ran the Mercedes Half Marathon earlier today.

See those medals? We finished!

It was a first for both of us and we are very happy we completed the race!

Our numbers (updated with official results):

4:45 wake up time (plc)
00:11:37 pace per mile
2:31:59 total time
13.1 Miles
2148 Calories

Dr. Gainey was #2021 and I was #2022. This time, only two of the men in the 70-74 age bracket ran faster than I did. I trounced the other one. There were at least 600 people who crossed the finish line after we did in the half-marathon.

I had the ipod cranking for most of the race and I'm not too ashamed to share my most motivating tunes:

1. Theme from Rocky (Gonna Fly Now) (this one picks me up every time!)
2. Billy Jean (Michael Jackson)
3. Heaven Knows
4. Play that Funky Music White Boy
5. I Will Survive
6. Long Train Runnin (Doobie Bros.)
7. A Horse With No Name
8. Takin it to the streets (Doobie's)
9. Long Train Runnin' (Doobie's)
10. Flying theme from ET

That's right, I was rocking to Donna Summer and Michael Jackson before you woke up this morning.

It was a blast running the race . . . and I wouldn't have even thought about it without Dr. Gainey. She's tops! Other running pics here.

Seriously, I wouldn't have even considered running the race without Dr. Gainey. She says it's the same for her, but somehow I don't believe her. She was a great training/running partner and we might have bigger goals next year.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Another ChoralNet Podcast: Interview with Tim Sharp

The Executive Committee of ACDA recently announced the appointment of Dr. Tim Sharp as Executive Director. Dr. Sharp will assume the new role full-time on May 1, 2008.

Download the podcast here.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Sharp on Tuesday, February 5 and asked him about his thoughts as he prepared to assume the office.

Interview questions:

1. What excites you most about becoming the executive director for ACDA?
2. How do you expect to shape ACDA in the coming years? Where do you think we need to move as an organization?
3. What are the immediate issues and projects that will occupy your first months in office?

Dr. Sharp holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the School of Church Music of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He is a Clare Hall Life Fellow of Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK, has studied at the Aspen School of Music, the Harvard NEH Medieval Sacred Music Studies program, and received a Rotary Fellowship for study in Belgium. He will return to conduct in Europe (Sweden) in March, and Russia in May of 2008.

My notes from our conversation:

"ACDA is the work of inspiration"
"We are professionals at what we do"
"Choral Journal holds us together in the non-convention months."
"Most exciting part--continue to inspire."

To do that ACDA needs to:

Continue strengthening what we do
Key to membership
Enlarge types of benefits the 21st century might require.

Or structure and infrastructure is incredibly good . . . We go deep into the various areas.
"We touch just about everyone doing choral music."

How he came to be the new Executive Director:
  • Wondered what kind of person would get the job
  • Became clear that some of his skills and experience would play well into the position: publishing, church music, higher education, choral journal experience
First months in the office:
  • Focus on running the office--running the system (accountants, membership, systems and need for smooth running of these systems)
  • Most exciting part will come later . . . Will spend his first weeks focusing on the systems of the organization (accounting, membership, structural details)
  • Will attend the regional conventions
Shaping the organization
  • More technological savvy (work on research and publications committee)
  • Wants to offer members benefits using technology . . . Called this low-hanging fruit
  • First pursuits: upgrading website, offering things online, immediate communication
  • Wants the organization to be transparent in how we get things done: budget, ways of working positions. Wants the Executive Director to be available and understood by the membership.
  • Wants ACDA to be more Significant with the International Choral Music Foundation: going to Belgium meeting, be more connected to International Partners - lots of benefits to ACDA members -
  • Personal Issue: evangelizing ACDA . . . Grow membership
  • Offer services to as many people . . . Broader membership . . . More people engaged in choral music making, especially at the entry level of choral music and also develop an emphasis on men and boys singing.
My thoughts:

Dr. Timothy Sharp takes over the reigns of ACDA as the new Executive Director on May 1 of this year. He has a wonderful vision of who we are . . . an organization that is about the work of inspiration.

He has a solid commitment to what we need to "keep doing" and an exciting vision for "who we need to be"

He has the maturity to realize that his first moments in office need to be focused on the basics--perfecting the systems of accounting, membership, and other structural details.

He has clear and exciting goals for the future:

ACDA will become more technological savvy - I loved his description that this was the "low-hanging fruit" . . . Perhaps the easiest thing to attain quickly.

ACDA will become to become more transparent in how it deals with the inner workings of the organization.

ACDA will become more invested with the rest of the world's choral musicians.

ACDA will grow it's membership, focusing on those at the entry level of singing and on men and boys . . . Something we sorely need at every level of singing.

I'm excited about the future, and I think Tim Sharp is the right man at the right time for our world class organization.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Jeez . . . Union University Needs your Prayers

What a scene of destruction.
Keep the students and faculty of Union University in your prayers.

See the slide show here . . . I know a lot of the music faculty there . . . they've set up a blog here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Last Words of David (Randall Thompson)

I'm working with one of the Hoover choirs this morning on Randall Thompson's "The Last Words of David" and found a few interesting websites talking about the great work:

The scripture
Interview with Craig Jessop (Mormon Tabernacle Choir)

Insight from a former middle school chorister who sang the work
A sermon on the topic

The text is appropriate on this day that we vote, the text of the work is shown here in the context of the scripture:

2 Samuel 23, King James Bible

1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,

2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.

3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.

4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More on Manning: The Catch

This is a great article.

This was a great catch . . . and great seems too small of a word:

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Proud of Eli and Anthony and Dr. Gainey

Anthony gave a marvelous recital tonight . . . beautiful voice, musical, great showmanship. The concert was well attended by people I know and love to have around. Superb job, Anthony.

After the recital, I pulled for the Giants in tonight's SuperBowl. I watched Eli as an Ole Miss fan and it was great to see him win it in the final moments tonight . . . his uniform even looked like an Ole Miss one.

The Manning's are special in Mississippi . . . Archie Manning was a legend at Ole Miss and a superb quarterback for the terrible New Orleans Saints. All Mississippi people feel a little bit of pride whenever Peyton and Eli do well. Winning back to back SuperBowls is quite special . . .

In other news . . .

Dr. Gainey and I ran 10 miles together on Saturday. It was the longest run I've ever attempted and were getting ready to run 13 in next Sunday's Mercedes Marathon. (The HALF Marathon, that is!)

I'm hoping for two things:

1. That I survive the race
2. That I complete the race

13.1 Miles. I'm hurting already.

Friday, February 01, 2008

God gave us coffee

This proves it.

A short message to the choir

Concert Choir . . .

As much as I love you as a collective group and music-making organization, I was frustrated at the beginning of rehearsal today.

When I come through the door, I expect you to:

1. either be in your seats and ready to rehearse
2. or immediately begin moving to your seats and get ready to rehearse

Today you seemed to want an individual invitation to do what you are supposed to do automatically.

I shouldn't have to beg you to get to your places--I shouldn't have to say anything at all, as a matter of fact.

Do the right thing. Be ready on Monday--at the beginning. Or before the beginning.