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May 2010



BOB'S PREVIOUS BLOG ...Retirement Pictures



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May. 15th, 2010

Bob's Last Concert

Sunday's Organ Recital

After some practice time at the 66-rank Andrews Organ (Welborne UMC, Richmond, VA), I've settled on a program for tomorrow's 5:00 recital.  As much as I'd like to play an eclectic mix of periods and styles, this organ and sanctuary acoustics do not cooperate.  I've decided to focus on the delicacies of baroque ornamentation and (especially in the Vivaldi and Handel concertos) the antiphonal "play" between the Great and Positif.  It's been some time since this retiree has performed.  I'm actually looking forward to it.  Here's the program: 

The Golden Age of the Pipe Organ

In thanksgiving to God for the gift of music
and in honor of St. Cecilia, patroness of the pipe organ


Allegro from Concerto in C Major
Antonio Vivaldi ( 1678-1741)


Introduction & Allegro
John Stanley (1712-1786)

Organ Concerto in F, Opus 4, #4
George Frederic Handel (1685-1759)
Allegro ~ Andante ~ Adagio ~ Allegro


Chorale Variations on
Meinen Jesus lass ich nicht
(My Jesus, I Will Never Forsake)
Johann Walther (1684-1748)

Variation #1 Con Espressione
Variation #2 Allegretto Commodo
Variation #3 Andante
Variation #4 Allegro Maestoso


Dialogue sur les Grands jeux
(from Mass for the Parishes)
Francois Couperin (1676-1710)

Sinfonies de Fanfares
Jean Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)

Rondeau - Allegro Maestoso
("Masterpiece Theatre" Theme)
from Premiere Suite, 1st movement

Fanfares - Allegro Vivace
from Premiere Suite, 3rd movement


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Remembering Evelyn

A Tribute to Evelyn ...

I normally avoid sharing remembrances of deceased friends on LiveJournal (in this case, eight years after her death); but “Evelyn” (my 91 year-old choir member and dearest friend) was different ... VERY different!  Evelyn was in a class unto herself.  And so, even though today is not the date of her death in May of 2002, I'm thinking of her, and …well, I want to pen some thoughts before they escape me. Perhaps it is today’s beautiful weather with springtime flowers blooming in Rainbrook’s gardens that causes me to remember Evelyn.  She loved her gardens and shared many plantings with me this time of the year. So, here is today’s tribute to my cherished friend and fellow church musician:


These are confusing days ... days to mimic your courage of purpose and abandonment of pretense, days to radiate your honesty of presence and maintenance of pride, days to blend your immediacy of time and your constancy of tenure.

If only your voice were here mingling with mine!  If only your steps were here guiding my stay!  If only... [But, in a very real sense, you are here, even as my mind forms these words. Even now, I can feel you proofing and correcting this manuscript with every word I type!] 

Today, I remember your love of the water ... the ocean, rivers, lakes ... and your visits to swimming pools in South Florida during the winter months.  Today, your pools of calming waters flow ever so gently to form streams of refreshment and peace in this world of drought and war.

Today, your laughter overshadows my misguided sense of dignity. Today, your special smile converts all my finely formed facades into authentic embraces of love.

Blessings, dear friend!


Mar. 16th, 2010

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Six Years Ago

This medley of "love themes" is from a March 16, 2004 concert I played just five hours before suffering a brain seizure that left me temporarily paralyzed and visually impaired. It's ironic that this secular/classical program was held in a church, surrounded by sacred space ... in the midst of the lenten season. Midway through the concert, I invited requests from the audience for non-sacred selections on the eve of St. Patrick's Day. I agreed to stylize three requests on the piano ... Rhapsody in Blue, Love Story, and Laura's Theme ... molding them into one medley (a "live" in-concert improvisation).

Dec. 16th, 2009

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Today is Beethoven's Birthday

Beethoven and Coffee ... An Unlikely Pair?

[My annual re-posting of the "Beethoven and Coffee" entry in honor of Beethoven’s birthday.]

I don't believe I've seen any mention of Beethoven's birthday yet this morning. [Although, I have not searched diligently.] Anyway, Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 16, 1770 (actually, resources will only state he was baptized on December 17).


Since a December 16th 1968 music conservatory written harmony/theory class Beethoven/Christmas party, I have never forgotten the date of his birth. You see, the college (now university) heating system went on the blink the morning of our Beethoven party. The only hot drink offered (with the only food of donut holes) was coffee. At that time in my conservatory years, my strongest drink was Tang (two teaspoons to the glass --a bottle lasted me a month on my monthly $5.00 entertainment allowance) and weak tea with cream and sugar. [Not that I was a prude, I just never had the urge to try C-O-F-F-E-E.] But, with the temperature in the concert hall back stage party room hovering around 45 degrees, I gave in and tasted my first cup of java. It wasn't bad! Actually, the combination of freezing temperatures (personally warmed by C-O-F-F-E-E), donut holes, and proud "prima dona" piano majors playing Beethoven sonatas in multiple conservatory practice rooms … left an indelible image of this composer's birth date "that will live in ecstasy."

Go ahead … enjoy some Beethoven and a cup of coffee. They DO make a nice pair!

Dec. 14th, 2009

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Awaken, Amass, Abound .. This Advent

"There are few occasions in my life which awaken dreams of hope; few moments in my intellect which amass maturations of truth; and few blessings in my spirit which abound with indescribable grace. Yet, today, I feel awakened and amassed, while abounding in renewed body, mind, and spirit."

These were my words expressed during a period of composing five years ago. Today, they are reminders of a special realm of kindness and caring ... always within my grasp. Through these holy days of Advent, I continue to pray for this kind of love in my soul and this extra dimension of peace in the world.

God bless you all, this holy Advent season!

Nov. 25th, 2009

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Count Your Blessings

OK, on this Eve of Thanksgiving, it's time to "count your blessings." I'm certainly thankful. As the old song says, "count your blessings, name them one by one."

For a change of pace (and musical taste) ... a radical stylistic adjustment to the classics, here is a raucous rendition of "Count Your Blessings," played in a theatre organ manner (almost "Calliope" style). I included it on an eclectic organ/piano concert with selections ranging from Bach to Bish in March of 1994. This light-hearted insertion in an otherwise evening of tame offerings was what we concert programmers term an "audience release" piece. Realize, to place something like this in a church concert setting only works if the audience is prepared for such frivolity. [I offered my apologies before and after its playing.] Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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Nov. 16th, 2009

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A Piece from Yesterday's Recital

It is Monday afternoon. I've just returned to Richmond from playing a recital at Warrenton United Methodist Church, Warrenton, Virginia (a benefit concert to fund the church's organ renovation). The instrument is a small, but nicely voiced, 12-rank Moeller. I decided to play a program of Bach, Boyce, Handel, Marcello, Soler, Clerambault, Charpentier, Mouret, and Saint-Saens. (I also agreed to create some live piano improvisations on the hymn "How Great Thou Art" as they passed the offering plates.) Here is my rendition of the "Vivace" from Voluntary #1 in D by English composer/organist, William Boyce.

Nov. 13th, 2009

Bob's Last Concert

Sunday's Recital

Alas ... I have been invited to play a benefit organ recital at Warrenton United Methodist Church, Warrenton, Virginia, to support the organ renovation fund. The instrument is a small Moeller (Artiste), about 12 ranks. Because of its size and the room's acoustics, I've decided (for the most part) to design a program of reserved baroque and classic pieces. Who could resist familiar crowd pleasers of Boyce, Charpentier, or Mouret? I'll begin the program with the middle movement from Mozart's Fantasie in F, (K. 594). Hope they'll like it. I just noticed that a YouTube video of my 1991 performance has been viewed 119,798 times. Wow!

Oct. 31st, 2009

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Before and After ...

Well, I was going to include some before and after shots of Rainbrook's entrance foyer, but I discovered that for years I've avoided taking pictures of those ugly spindles and the dark banister and staircase.  For over a year, I've been scheming to remove the skinny spindles and replace them with two classic columns.  Finally, the transformation is complete!  I must give credit to Aunt Marcia in Houston for finding the columns, salvaged from an old fireplace surround.  After receiving the solid wooden cylinders last Friday (via UPS), I began the process of building up each column base about 4 inches and finishing off the top with a square anchor piece ... necessitating multiple trips to Lowe's, Home Depot, and Ben Franklin.  

Here's the AFTER look:

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Oct. 29th, 2009

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Preparing for All Saints' Day

In preparation for All Saints' Day, Sunday, November 1, I turn to the William W. How hymn text "For all the saints, who from their labors rest ..." The hymn first appeared in Horatio Nelson's 1864 Hymns for Saints' Days and Other Hymns in eleven stanzas under the title "Saints' Day Hymn" and "A Cloud of Witnesses - Hebrews 12:1." The original first line read "For all thy saints." With the author's permission, THY was changed to THE for the 1864 publication.

The Ralph Vaughan Williams tune, SINE NOMINE, literally means "without name." It is one of four tunes the composer contributed without attribution to the first edition of The English Hymnal, 1906 and remains one of the most widely used tunes from the repertory of unison tunes composed in Great Britain in the early part of the twentieth century.

Here is a video of the hymn used in procession at my church twelve years ago. I have embedded the words of each stanza as it is sung and played. As organist-choirmaster, it was my joy to make the most out of this merger of How's text and Vaughan Williams' tune. I included an organ modulation to the key of G for the final stanza, concluding with a fanfare "Alleluia" ending. [Forgive the typo in the spelling of Vaughan Williams on the title page. I didn't discover the mistake until the video had been uploaded.]

Oct. 21st, 2009

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Another of my compositions ... not with musical notes, but words

Music is the ingredient of life that “transcends the ordinary and ascends to the divine.” I refer to it as life’s extra dimension. Often, I find myself using this phrase to describe that un-worldly realm experienced as performer and composer. What follows is a proclamation of sorts … my personal words of affirmation, prompted by music’s mysterious charms as witnessed by only a musician.


Only a musician …
having touched
the "harps of gold”
ever so slightly,
senses that mysterioso realm
of ethereal grace!

Only a musician …
having heard
the sinuous shouts
of harmonic dissonance,
soothes life's trials
with consonant hope!

Only a musician …
having tasted
the extended overtones
of infinite wisdom,
seasons misguided tuning
with well-tempered love!

Only a musician …
having felt
the extra dimensions
of awakened syncopation,
shades stifled symmetry
with vigorous life!

Only a musician …
having sung
the spherical sonorities
of angelic voicing,
stretches the human heart
with unleashed joy!

Only a musician …
having encountered
the free tempi
of unbounded meter,
finds solidarity in justice
and compassion in peace!

- R. G. Swift

Oct. 18th, 2009

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Down Memory Lane -or- Why Am I Writing This?

[Inspired from a post of three years ago; still, today I am reminiscing.] 

I’m not sure why I’m journaling about “things past.” I haven’t searched my scrapbooks or diaries for dates or factual events, nor have I spent any time seriously reflecting on a particular personal happening for which I am curious or troubled. Perhaps, it’s the recent increase in gasoline prices in the Richmond area. I recall how it was for me as a high school senior back in 1967. $2.00 would fill the car and last about two weeks, covering the round trips to school and travel to and from my church job, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Even though I’m not THAT old, it’s revealing sometimes to list (at random) “things of my past.” Here goes:

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Sep. 24th, 2009

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My Birthday

In their 94th, 85th, and 60th years of life ...

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Aug. 27th, 2009

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Tomorrow is mother's birthday

Last year at this time (the evening before mom's birthday) I was busily preparing to host the family for a formal dinner in Rainbrook's dining room.  This year, the family is meeting tomorrow afternoon/evening at mom and dad's "rivah" place for a cook-out.  [I'm bringing the cake.]  We never dreamed this would be possible back on April 19th when mom suffered the first of two heart attacks. 

In addition to the main beach house, the large apartment over the boat garage has been completely renovated in anticipation of mom's arrival.  I'll try to take some pictures tomorrow and Saturday.  This will be the first time in almost a year that she has visited the "rivah" place.  [I was just pleased to see her return to the "city" home; to visit the summer place for her birthday is an extra bonus!]  We'll more than likely be eating dinner outside or on the porch tomorrow.  Quite a change from last year.  Here's a picture from last year's setting in my home.

Aug. 11th, 2009

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Mother is home from the hospital

I thought I should post something after an almost two month hiatus from LiveJournal. Since April 19th, my mother has suffered two heart attacks, requiring triple by-pass surgery. She returned home three weeks ago, following nearly two months in a rehab/nursing center. While there, she fell three times, requiring multiple stitches to her head. Thankfully, dad is holding his own and seems to be in average health. I knew this time would come for my parents as they approach their mid-80s. I'm just glad I live nearby and can do my part.

Since mother's birthday is at the end of this month and since she will be visiting me in my home tomorrow, I've decided to surprise her with some framed sunset photos of the family's river place from my July 15th visit. Here is the format of my framing

Meanwhile, I've spent a nice summer in town, teaching piano and enjoying my home. 

Here I am relaxing on Rainbrook's deck.

Jun. 20th, 2009

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Remembering Aunt Doris

A Scrap Book Clipping from Aunt Doris

Things to Forget ...
Things to Remember ...

Today, I honor my Aunt Doris who died in August, 2004. She was born June 20, 1920. Here is an excerpt from one of her scrap book clippings. I believe Doris was successful in following the wisdom of these writings.

Forget each kindness that you do
as soon as you have done it.

Forget the praise that falls to you
the moment you have won it.

Forget the slander that you hear
before you can repeat it.

Forget each slight, each spite, each sneer,
wherever you may meet it.

Remember every kindness done to you
whatever its measure.

Remember praise by others won
and pass it on with pleasure.

Remember every promise made
and keep it to the letter.

Remember those who lend you aid
and be a grateful debtor.

Remember all the happiness
that comes your way in living.

Forget each worry and distress;
be hopeful and forgiving ...

and you will find
through age and youth
that many hearts
will love you!


Thanks, Doris, for these words of wisdom.

Nephew Bob,

Jun. 12th, 2009

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Rainbrook's 2009 Lilies

As promised, here are some photos of Rainbrook's bumper crop of day lilies.  My, the squirrels must have been busy this year; I've found some lily bulbs transplanted to the east gardens.

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May. 22nd, 2009

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Yesterday Was Ascension Thursday

Ascension Sunday, five years ago, I premiered my original music setting of the scripture, "When I am lifted up, I will draw all unto me." The church commissioned "something" in observance of its 150 anniversary. I decided to interpret the text from the sanctuary's stained-glass rose window. I needed to keep it simple because the singers and instrumentalists were all volunteer.
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May. 5th, 2009

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103,328 Views ... and counting

Since I'm finally back posting on LJ, maybe I can come up with another entry this afternoon ... Wow, two in one day! [My 3:30 piano lesson cancelled. Hope it's not THE flu!]

Let's see ... I just noticed that one of my (100) YouTube videos has been viewed 103,328 times. It is the middle "Allegro" movement from Mozart's Fantasie in F Minor (K. 594) from a 1991 recital. I suggested that brides (and grooms) might like to have it played at their wedding as a closing voluntary for a change of pace, assuming that the prior recessional music selection were more refined. This nuptial choice also assumes that the organist will alter (resolve) the final chord to major. [Then, maybe we could/should leave that choice up to the wedding couple. LOL] Ok, here I am ... nearly 18 years ago, tinkering with Mozart again. Apparently, the brides (and grooms) love it.   Enjoy!

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A Sad Springtime at Rainbrook

It's been over a month since my last post. During that time, my mother (83) suffered a stroke, two heart attacks, and (yesterday) fluid on the lungs. Last Monday, she endured triple bypass surgery; this afternoon, she is having a pacemaker implanted. Thankfully, I found her much stronger this morning. For the last month, I've been consumed with mother's well-being ... trying to do my part. Today, in my attempt to lighten her thoughts, I shared news of my recent landscaping at Rainbrook and some changes inside the house. That brought a smile to her face. I told her I'd be creating a photo collage for LiveJournal. That made her happy to know this journal entry will be waiting for her when she returns home from the hospital. I haven't forgotten all my LJ friends. This has been a busy time away from the computer.

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Mar. 25th, 2009

October 2008 Casual Bob

The "relish to our wine"

Pardon me; I'm still reveling in the thrills of last night's Daniel Roth organ recital.

Here is a reflection on the powers of music as penned by John Oldham:

Music's the cordial of a troubled breast,
The softest remedy that grief can find;
The gentle spell that charms our care to rest
And calms the ruffled passions of the mind.
   Music does all our joys refine,
   And gives the relish to our wine.

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Daniel Roth

Last night, I treated myself to an evening of Widor, Franck, Saint-Saens, Vierne, and live organ improvisations by Roth. Yes, Roth ... as in Daniel Roth, Titular Organist at The Church of St. Sulpice, Paris.  Richmond's River Road Church (just a few minutes from my home) featured this widely acclaimed French organ virtuoso last night, performing on the sanctuary's 65-rank 1970 Moeller organ, as part of the church's concert series.  Here's a picture of River Road's nave from the church's web site:

Daniel Roth has held several prestigious positions as an artist and teacher. At age twenty he made his debut at the organ of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur. Since 1985 he has served as Titular Organist at St. Sulpice, where his predecessors were Charles-Marie Widor, Marcel Dupre and Jean-Jacques Grunenwald.  Last night's program included Widor's "Final" from Symphonie #7 and the complete Vierne Symphonie No. 3, Op. 28.  Interestingly, he also chose to play two of his orchestral organ transcriptions: the Franck "Allegretto" from Symphonie en re minuer for orchestra and the Saint-Saens Scherzo for Piano and Harmonium, Op. 8, #5.   I was spell-bound by the organ's depth of orchestral color and dynamics under Roth's control.  Of course, the warmth of River Road's sanctuary acoustics embraced and enhanced his artistry.  Following a "Gloria Patri" setting from the organist's Livre d'orgue pour le Magnificat, Roth was presented with his evening's improvisation assignment: the Westminster Abbey cantus (Christ is Made the Sure Foundation).  He received the mystery tune in the form of a ritualized presentation by River Road's organist-choirmaster (a hand-delivered card containing the hymn number).  His magnificent improvisation extended for approximately 10 minutes, (in my opinion) truly one of the highlights of the evening!  At the opening of the concert, it was announced that Mr. Roth would be returning to Paris this morning.  My, what a musical treat he left last night's audience of Richmond organ enthusiasts.  This morning, I am prompted to revisit my favorite Franck and Saint-Saens pieces.


Feb. 25th, 2009

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Lent 2009

Lenten Reflections on a Holy Land Trip
How Does One Prepare for THE HOLY LAND?

Today is Ash Wednesday. Over the past few weeks, I've thought a lot about this year's lenten journey ... how will I prepare ... what should be my expectations ... what new spiritual avenues might I explore?

In December of 1998, I toured the holy land with the bishop and the newly ordained and consecrated ministers. I prepared for this trip, making sure that my packed bags, passport, and airline tickets were duly in hand. I followed the prerequisites of the tour, reading the necessary instructions in my guidebook. I anticipated the rugged terrain and expected to be challenged by foreign cultures and customs. I even studied the maps of Nazareth, the “Sea” of Galilee, the Jordan valleys, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem. But, what I didn’t realize and couldn’t prepare for was “the spirit of this place in my heart!”

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Feb. 2nd, 2009

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Jascha Heifetz

Russian-born American violinist, Jascha Heifetz, was born on this date in 1901.  I love this Heifetz quotation:

I occasionally play works by contemporary composers and for two reasons. 
First, to discourage the composer from writing any more,
and secondly to remind myself how much I appreciate Beethoven.

[Now, I think I'll  go play some Beethoven!]


Jan. 30th, 2009

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These Things I Know ...

"An Old Scottish Saying"  - Today, I’m reminded of an old Scottish saying about the things “I know”:

I know...
that this day will never come again;
it should therefore be the best day of my life.

I know...
that true happiness is a thing within;
when I begin to search for it, when I get it and give it away again, it comes back double.

I know...
that love is a stimulus;
it’s those who have love in their hearts that are the doers and real benefactors of mankind.

I know...
that my life is exactly what I make it;
only as I let other people and other forces influence me, do I follow them.

I know...
that if I live youth, I am young;
if I live happiness, I am happy;
if I attempt worthwhile things, I shall accomplish them.

I know...
that this world is not our only abiding place;
else why the human aspirations which spring from our hearts and remain for a time unsatisfied?


Now, enjoy your day!

Jan. 29th, 2009

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A Charles Munch Quote

Music is an art that expresses the inexpressible. It rises far above what words can mean or the intelligence define. Its domain is the imponderable and impalpable land of the unconscious. Man's right to speak this language is for me the most precious gift that has been bestowed upon us and we have no right to misuse it. Let no one be astonished that I consider my work a priesthood, not a profession. It is not too strong a word.   [from "I Am a Conductor" by Charles Munch]

This quote was posted two years ago in LiveJournal's "Classical Music" community.  I have been granted permission to post it here (Church Musicians - Friends and Organists - Friends). 

Charles Munch (Münch) (Conductor)
Born: September 26, 1891 - Strasbourg, Alsace, France
Died: November 6, 1968 - Richmond, Virginia, USA

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Jan. 9th, 2009

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Special Requests

During my years as church musician and organ/piano/voice recitalist, often there were times for special requests. What a relief as a concert designer not to feel I had to finalize everything on the program! However, it also proved challenging to create, stylize, or improvise "on the spot." Funerals were a time for special requests. Here is my modern rendering of the Bill Gaither song, "He Touched Me," requested for the service of my 91 year old friend, Evelyn. Even though this was held in a church, I decided to stylize my piano playing "the way SHE liked it."

Again, I will place this video under a "LJ-cut." LiveJournal (and Vox) has proved to be an ideal medium for archiving audio/video recordings from my 40-years of church music employment; however, I am cognizant that one must be considerate of space and bandwidth, especially on friends' pages. Hence, the following cut. For those who wish to view, enjoy!
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Jan. 1st, 2009

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A New Year's Day Duet

On this first day of 2009, I'm remembering a gift I received a year or two ago ... a (thought-to-be-long-lost) November 1997 video, recorded as part of that year's observance of my 25th year anniversary as full-time organist/choirmaster.  A soprano from my choir joined me in a concert of vocal duets honoring St. Cecilia, patron saint of music. The opening selection was Felix Mendelssohn's "In Thine Hands." I think the text is appropriate for New Year's Day: "In Thine hands are all the ends of the earth; and the high towering mountains Thou hast made. Come, let us worship and kneel before the Lord, our Maker."
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Dec. 31st, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob Close-up

John Denver

According to my “Music-Lover’s Birthday Book,” American singer and “pop” songwriter, John Denver was born this day in 1943. [Tragically, he died October 12, 1997 at the age of 53 when his experimental aircraft crashed, killing him instantly.] Those of you who know of my musical tastes (stylistic preferences as a sacred music composer) may wonder why I’ve chosen to honor John Denver. Maybe this tribute today is really about all composers and music genres. Maybe I’m considering what it is that ultimately inspires each of us to create ... to dream ... to believe. Maybe I’m reflecting on something I’ve said multiple times in this journal: I admitted (privately, then publicly) that “my life does not revolve around music, for music’s sake. If I cannot associate music’s grandeur with the omnipotent powers of God, then its existence has little intrigue.”

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Dec. 24th, 2008

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Merry Christmas from Rainbrook

Merry Christmas to all my friends!

This year, I decided to decorate the tree with red bows. Later, I added candy canes and invited my young piano students to select one following the last piano lesson of the season.  I think I need to add more candy canes now.

Dec. 22nd, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob Close-up

Happiness is something you remember!

Oscar Levant, pianist-composer-actor (1906-1972) was quoted as saying:  Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember.  ~ Interesting!  I agree. The joys of life are fully enhanced (and truly embraced) through retrospect and memory.

Here are some less ponderous (more humorous) Levant quotes:

"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left."

"So little time and so little to do..."

"I'm a concert pianist; that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."

"Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character."

"Leonard Bernstein is revealing musical secrets that have been common knowledge for centuries."

Dec. 21st, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob Close-up

Bob's Discovery ...

"For Unto Us A Child Is Born" (Isaiah 9: 6) and "Fugue #5" from J.S. Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" (Book 1) are a PERFECT match! 

While playing the fugue #5 (D Major) from Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier" Book 1, I found myself also singing the words from Isaiah 9, verse 6: "For unto us a child is born." It is uncanny how the two merge and compliment one another. I immediately began sketching the text (imposing the words upon Bach's notes).

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Dec. 19th, 2008

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More Beethoven Tributes

Since I posted my tribute to Beethoven on his birthday, December 16, I've found some quotes to share:

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy, it is the wine of a new procreation, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for men and makes them drunk with the spirit. 
- Ludwig van Beethoven

On his death bed:

Strange, I feel as if up to now I had written no more than a few notes. 
Ludwig van Beethoven


Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years. 
- William F. Buckley, Jr.

Bach is like an astronomer who, with the help of ciphers, finds the most wonderful stars .... Beethoven embraced the universe with the power of his spirit  ... I do not climb so high.  A long time ago I decided that my universe will be the soul and heart of man. 
- Frederic Chopin


More later ....

Dec. 16th, 2008

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Happy Birthday Beethoven

Beethoven and Coffee ... An Unlikely Pair?

[My annual re-posting of the "Beethoven and Coffee" entry in honor of Beethoven’s birthday.]

I don't believe I've seen any mention of Beethoven's birthday yet this morning. [Although, I have not searched diligently.] Anyway, Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 16, 1770.


Since a December 16th 1968 music conservatory written harmony/theory class Beethoven/Christmas party, I have never forgotten the date of his birth. You see, the college (now university) heating system went on the blink the morning of our Beethoven party. The only hot drink offered (with the only food of donut holes) was coffee. At that time in my conservatory years, my strongest drink was Tang (two teaspoons to the glass --a bottle lasted me a month on my monthly $5.00 entertainment allowance) and weak tea with cream and sugar. [Not that I was a prude, I just never had the urge to try C-O-F-F-E-E.] But, with the temperature in the concert hall back stage party room hovering around 45 degrees, I gave in and tasted my first cup of java. It wasn't bad! Actually, the combination of freezing temperatures (personally warmed by C-O-F-F-E-E), donut holes, and proud "prima dona" piano majors playing Beethoven sonatas in multiple conservatory practice rooms … left an indelible image of this composer's birth date "that will live in ecstasy."

Go ahead … enjoy some Beethoven and a cup of coffee.  They DO make a nice pair!

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Dec. 12th, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob

Christmas Tree

It's been some time since I last posted an entry.  Sorry, I've been busy decorating at Rainbrook, preparing music leadership for my boyhood home church, Elpis, during these four Sundays of Advent, and practicing for Sunday's "Christmas Around the World" 3 p.m. concert ... my usual piano and organ variations on carol themes, plus some legitimate playing of Bach and Daquin.  I love to decorate, lead music, and concertize ... so I'd say I'm keeping busy doing what I like to do!  

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Nov. 27th, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob Close-up

Give Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It's Thanksgiving Day in the United States ... a day full of memories.  

One of my memories as organist-choirmaster is the conducting of Handel choruses at this time of year for St. Cecilia Festivals. Here is "Give Thanks to the Lord" to give focus for the day:

Nov. 22nd, 2008

Face Close-up


As the nation marks the 45th anniversary today of the Kennedy assassination, I can't resist reflecting on where I was that day and the impact this tragedy had upon my life. My grandfather had died November 3. The family was still dealing with grief, gradually resuming a semblance of normalcy while forced to attend to daily schedules.  I remember on November 22, 1963, I was on the high school volley ball court. Some girls ran to stop the game, shouting "the president's been shot!" We didn't believe them. Those girls had been teasing us just prior to the game. But, they kept insisting. I'll never forget the awareness that swept over my being when I actually believed they were serious. We rushed to the main hallway of our revered 1934 school. That afternoon, it felt more revered than ever. I remember this eerie silence engulfing the place. There were no televisions (well, maybe one in the main office); but over the public address system the principal played a radio broadcast while we sat motionless at our desks. Thankfully, it was almost time to load the buses for the ride home. Even the school bus was a stifled mix of silence (heads lowered in prayer or mindlessly staring into space) and the occasional outburst of tears. I remember over the next few days television became our living room shrine of sublime ceremony and more unfolding tragedies. For the first time in my life, television became important as a medium for conveying the emotion and drama of current events. The funeral coverage afforded my first views of the city of Washington, a mystical and foreboding place ... at least, this is what I perceived through the snowy picture on our black and white 1950s set. Little could I know at the time ... I would be living and working in the DC area for over 27 years. The next week, we returned to school; life resumed. But, it was never the same.

Nov. 17th, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob Close-up

Life 34 years ago ...

From a Harpsichordist's Diary
An Excerpt from a 1974 Pre-Christmas Letter

Today, while viewing a photo album of personal musical instruments "past and present," I found this letter taped to the back of a picture of my first Sperrhake harpsichord purchased in early 1974 from the company in Passau, Germany. Here's an excerpt from the letter to my mother, dated Friday, December 6, 1974.

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Nov. 11th, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob

Nandina Berries ...

One of my LJ friends inspired me to create these arrangements of nandina berries at Rainbrook's front entrance. By Christmas, they will be a darker and more vibrant red.  (Click on the picture[s] once or twice for enlargements.)
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Nov. 9th, 2008

October 2008 Casual Bob Close-up

Good Morning ...

It's a new day. Let's give thanks!

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