I’m doing a gig this evening for a private party, playing for two Webster University seniors to entertain with Christmas songs.
So we needed to rehearse, and we all needed to eat.
Therefore Friday evening became an impromptu dinner of homemade chicken and noodles, fresh sourdough bread, and a salad. And then we sang.
Friday evenings at home are rarely more fun.
I have for years had a love/hate relationship with December. Mostly love, I suppose . . . .
For a musician, December is that month of hell. It’s worse than Holy Week. The concerts just don’t seem to end. Last year I was singing with Bach Society and SLSO Symphony Chorus. In previous years I’ve had school concerts, professional singing gigs, choruses of my own to conduct, and of course extra church events.
The arrival of Christmas Eve morning where I gather with others to listen to the King’s College, Cambridge Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols marks the peaceful end of what is usually a hectic month.
And so this year I am amazed to realize that I have no official singing duties in December. Instead, I will attend many concerts!, to whit –
- December 1, Webster University Wind Ensemble
- December 3, Webster University student chamber ensembles
- December 6, SLSO subscription concert
- December 6, Saint Louis Children’s Choruses holiday concert
- December 7, Webster University’s A Gift to the City
- December 7, Orchestrating Diversity holiday concert
- December 8, Webster University Jazz Singers
- December 11, Straight No Chaser holiday concert at Fox
- December 13, Circus Flora with SLSO holiday concert
- December 19, A Christmas Story (Pasek & Paul) at the Fox
- December 20, SLSO Holiday Pops concert
- December 21, Saint Louis Chamber Choir holiday concert (featuring Howells)
- December 23, Bach Society of Saint Louis annual candlelight concert
And then a few hours after that final concert ends, I will listen to the sounds from England as the King’s College Choir (including at least one chorister I know from Gloucester last year) beckons in the joyful season of Christmastide.
Friday. Drive to Kirksville and back (which when you think of the time/distance is just like driving to Lee’s Summit and back) for a National Association of Teachers of Singing adjudication. Attend Ken Haller’s cabaret show at the Gaslight, in celebration of Ken’s 60th birthday.
Saturday. Up early for a morning sing at the College Music Society annual conference, this year in Clayton, Missouri. I led the assembled conventioners in music by Palestrina, Bach, Mendelssohn, Hensel, Rachmaninoff, Stanford. Then visit with Dr. Lori Rhoden. And attend a couple of sessions on technology in teaching. Home for an early lunch. Work on putting my sleeping and studying floor at home back in order after the whirlwind of October. To school to teach make-up lessons. Make a cottage pie and salad for dinner, and then dine with K. Attend the Webster Conservatory cabaret show at the Gaslight, and cheer on three of my favorite kids, including my own student Eden Eernissee. Jean the Magnificent and Ron join us. Set the clocks back an hour.
Sunday. Church. A voice lesson at home. Missouri History Museum, just because I want to. Attend Evensong for All Saints and All Souls Days at St. Peter’s, Ladue (where Howells is being sung!). To school for a concert, and then a make-up lesson.
I have unpacked the new shredder, and finished three loads of laundry. And I’ve organized a ton of files, papers, and personal records. That’s enough for any one weekend.
About Dr. Rhoden: when I was at Ball State University, Lori and I would grab 30 minutes at the close of the day, about once a month, and visit in her office or in mine. I’ve not seen her in 6.5 years. Today we sat down in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton and acted like we did when I was in Muncie. What a delight this catch-up was!
After years away from the pit, I’m delighted to return to the theatre scene as musical director of this outstanding production. And I’m so happy to be working with Scott and the gang at New Line Theatre in Saint Louis.
We put things together on Sunday with the band. Among the group is a Webster University student and a Webster alum. I understand that I’ll have another alum and another student subbing during the run of the show.
Sunday’s rehearsal was delightful. We made it through the the first-read with the orchestra and first-sing-with-orchestra (called a sitzprobe in theatre and opera terminology) in less than three hours. I worked a few details with the orchestra, and from long experience know that the rest of the finicky stuff will be taken care of during the three dress rehearsals this week.
Having the band and the singers together for the first time is always an electrifying experience. The music comes alive. I hear and see different things. Of course we have timing issues, but these are happy problems as we ask the actors to let the music breathe a bit (and let that guitar get in that lick, and let the drums fill for an instant, and let the fiddle simply fiddle). I love that I get to play a bit less and quit trying to fill in all the gaps. And I love the whole concept and reality of the intense collaboration that takes place in the orchestra pit. The bottom line for all of us who have been present rehearsal after rehearsal: everything sounds different . . . full . . . alive . . . whole . . . and this leads to much happiness.
That I’m surrounded by pros in the pit (actually, packed in like sardines with pros in a tight space) makes my life easy. We made quick work of problem spots. I have a great rhythm section that instinctively knows what to do. The color is provided by a woodwind player and a fiddle/violin player and a second keyboard player, all knowledgeable and experienced. Monday’s run was a quantum leap over Sunday’s very fine sitz.
So one run is down, and two more will bring us to a preview night and then the official opening of Bonnie & Clyde on Friday.
What fun this is!!
Who thinks theatre is glamorous?
We are getting close, though, and in another ten days the glamour will be real with costumes and props and lights and stuff. And the band. Definitely the band.
Bonnie & Clyde at New Line Theatre is in great shape right now!
Here are two impromptu shots from before rehearsal Thursday evening:
And without giving away the set, here’s a teaser:
I got to thinking on Labor Day — thinking about my own employment history.
Herewith, a chronology:
1977. Zarda Dairy, Lee’s Summit. Soda jerk and stock boy. I was sixteen.
1977. Piano teacher.
1978. Hardee’s, Lee’s Summit. Shift manager by the time I left in 1980.
1980. First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit. Summer intern.
1981. Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar. Summer Admissions staff.
1982. Missouri Baptist Convention. Summer missionary in Tarkio.
1983. Trinity Baptist Church of Willow Springs, Missouri. Associate Pastor.
1984. Southwest Baptist University. Assistant Director of Admissions.
1986. Southwest Baptist University. Director of Admissions.
1987. McCamm Management Co., Blue Springs, Missouri. Director of Public Relations for a McDonald’s franchise.
1988. Self-employed music teacher, Blue Springs and Independence. A constant through my life until June 1999.
1989. Christ Community Church, Blue Springs. Choirmaster/organist.
1990. Blue River Community College. Adjunct faculty. Conductor of Jacomo Chorale, a constant through February 1999.
1991. University of Central Missouri. Graduate teaching assistant.
1993. Church of the Resurrection (Episcopal), Blue Springs. Choirmaster/organist.
1993. Graceland University, Lamoni, Iowa. Adjunct voice faculty.
1993. University of Central Missouri. Lecturer in Music.
1995. St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Independence. Choirmaster/organist.
1996. University of Kansas, Lawrence. Doctoral teaching assistant.
1997. First Presbyterian Church, Lawrence. Choirmaster.
1999. Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro. Assistant Professor of Music.
1999. Owensboro Symphony Chorus. Conductor.
2000. Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Assistant Professor of Music.
2000. Trinity Episcopal Church, Anderson, Indiana. Choirmaster/organist.
2003. Grace Episcopal Church, Muncie. Choirmaster.
2008. Webster University, Saint Louis. Associate Professor of Music & Chair of the Department of Music.
2008. Gateway Men’s Chorus of Saint Louis. Artistic Director and Conductor.
2008. Church of Saint Michael and Saint George, Clayton. Section leader.
2008. Studio voice teacher, Saint Louis.
2011. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. Section leader.
2012. Church of Saint Michael and Saint George, Clayton. Section leader.
2014. New Line Theatre, Saint Louis. Resident music director.
I read years ago that the average person has seven different career profiles during her or his lifetime.
So far in mine:
- Soda jerk
- fast food kid
- pastor and youth pastor
- admissions officer
- public relations guy
- church musician
- choral director
- voice teacher
- university administrator
- musical theatre director
- singer and soloist
Each of these are truly different professions, often drawing on the same skill set. And with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies as the first of several degrees.
I’ve been blessed, indeed!
Today is the last day of summer vacation.
I return to the office tomorrow after four weeks away from my desk, and three weeks away from day-to-day schooling.
Yes, I’m ready to go back. But I’m also lamenting the loss of the the ease and freedom these last few weeks have brought!
J-Dog stopped by for a visit yesterday, since he is back in Illinois for a few weeks before returning to NYC. We ate at Adam’s Smokehouse, then drove out I-44 and MO-100 to New Haven to visit Pinckney Bend Distillery.
And I must say: the hooch at this distillery beat anything I sampled in Portland. Anything!
We also walked around to a glass-maker’s shop (where I bought a beautiful new glass vase that’s perfect in the living room, and a couple of glass ‘thumblers’ as a wedding present), and stopped by Röbbler Vineyard for a sampling there.
And then we went to his favorite local Mexican place. J-Dog departed for home, but he’ll be back in a few days to join me at the Muny.
J-Dog, a 2012 graduate of Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts, has just finished a months-long stint as entertainer on a major cruise ship in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. He’s a different guy than he was for four years as my voice student, and I couldn’t be more delighted for him!
And then the evening shift (and what a shift in tone and style it was!) — A Streetcar Named Desire at Union Avenue Opera. This was J’s first opera. I’m not certain this American tragedy by Tennessee Williams needed to be set to music, but I’m glad I saw it.
This morning = I sang at First United Methodist Church of Webster Groves.
And now, I must wash the car, finish some thing here at home, take a load of stuff to school, and prep for my return to a normal life.
Welcome, longest day of the week. Three lessons. SLSO Chorus rehearsal with SLSO. WUCO rehearsal.
Here we go.
And it’s the second Tuesday of the month, with the street-cleaners already finished, five minutes before they were scheduled to start. Good thing my Ingrid is in my garage.