Saturday, July 4, 2009

Assistantship and other things

This week, I have been privileged to many things.  On Monday, I saw a master clarinetist from Kansas (originally from Romania) perform several pieces flawlessly, watch him teach, and speak with him for a while.  On Tuesday, I saw a woodwind specialist play masterfully three very different instruments:  the clarinet, oboe, and saxophone.  He then taught and spoke with the students.  Both candidates were very good, and I will be happy with whichever one the university chooses.  To be honest, it does not matter to me who gets the job, as I am leaving in the fall, but it is still very entertaining to see these great performers for free.

At the end of Tuesday, I performed on horn with a community band a folder of fun, easy music.  We played the "Declaration Overture," "Clash of the Ironclads," a Phantom of the Opera medley, "Heaven's Light," a prelude and fugue arranged from J.S. Bach, and a circus piece called "Circus Days."  Before and after the concert, ice cream was served.  It's a fun tradition that has been rekindled in the last year or so.

Wednesday morning, I woke up and saw in my e-mail inbox where LSU had given me an assistantship to pay for my graduate education.  One could not imagine the weight that was lifted from my shoulders.  It is clear that the weight of financial insecurity is far greater than the weight of uncertain future responsibilities.

I went straight from having read that to having gone to an old tradition in a nearby community of a potluck.  In Merigold, the United Methodist Church hosts a potluck of interesting food that one otherwise would never encounter.  I brought my girlfriend with me and my mother and we ate several very interesting potluck dishes.  This tradition has interested my mother to the point that she has been researching and writing a book about Merigold's food history.

It was a busy three days.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Busy weekend // Okupita semajnofino

The weekend before last was pretty busy and interesting.

Saturday afternoon at about 2:00 p.m., I performed "The Lord is my Light" by Francis Allitsen at the memorial service at the Mississippi United Methodist Annual Conference (which is available for viewing at under "Service of Remembrance") in front of over 2000 people. It was fun to perform for that many people—it was pretty cool to have so many people come up to me after the service and tell me how it was the highlight of the conference, and how it had blessed them. It brings me no end of joy to hear that I have helped someone in his or her spiritual life, especially when all I did was sing a song. I am very glad I was able to do it.

Immediately after the service, I drove from Jackson to Laurel, where the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters had its 2009 awards gala. Aubrey Lucas, Mississippi's most beloved man, emceed the event. This year, we awarded Steve Rouse (a former student of the late William Albright, and the composer of one of the pieces that I performed with the Delta State Wind Ensemble a couple of semesters ago) with the music composition award, for a ballet he wrote based on the work of the artist who designed the sculpture above the front doors of Washington National Cathedral. We awarded the pop music award to 3 Doors Down, who sent the parents of one of the band members to receive the award. Another notable winner was Marshall Bouldin, who painted more portraits that are hanging in the US Capitol than any other portrait artist. He was an extraordinary man, not only having great notoreity (he and Norman Rockwell were good friends), but also having tremendous humility and spirituality. He was a very elderly man who possessed an enviable degree of joy. He blamed much of his happiness on his ability to pray and meditate every evening. The rest of the winners are listed on the MIAL site: The whole evening was very entertaining, enlightening, and worth every cent the membership to the MIAL costs. I was there in three capacities—as a former winner, a current nominee, and as a loyal member of the MIAL. So many interesting people come to this event. I sat at a table with Lee McCarty, the famous potter; we shared several great stories.

That evening, I drove back to Jackson, to wake up the next morning for more business sessions of the Mississippi United Methodist Church.

The whole weekend was very interesting.

At the end of Sunday evening, I mustered enough courage to ask a girl with which I had been secretly in love for about five years if she would be interesting in dating. To my surprise, she admitted that she had felt exactly the same way for the same amount of time. We met at Honor Choir 2004, and ever since then we both secretly felt a special affection for the other. Needless to say, we started dating.

La antaŭlasta semajnofino estis sufiĉe okupita kaj interesa.

En la posttagmezo de sabato, ĉe la 14a horo, mi kantis "La Sinjoro estas mia Lum'," de Francis Allitsen ĉe la rememora diservo ĉe la Misisipia Unuiĝinta Metodista Ĉiujara Konferenco antaŭ pli ol 2000 homoj. Ĉi tiu estas videbla ĉe sub "Service of Remembrance." Kanti por tiom da homoj estis amuza—tiom da homoj venis al mi post la diservo kaj diris al mi ke ĝi estis la kulmino de la konferenco, kaj ke ĝi benis ilin. Aŭdi ke mi helpis iun en lia aŭ ŝia spirita vivo feliĉigas min, precipe kiam mi nur kantas kanton. Mi ĝojas ke mi povis kanti ĝin tie.

Tuj post la diservo, mi veturis Laŭrelon de Ĵaksono. En Laŭrelo, la Misisipia Instituto de Artoj kaj Literaturo havis ĝian 2009 premia bankedo. Aubrey Lucas, la plej amata viro en Misisipio, direktis la eventon. Ĉi-jara, ni premiis al Steve Rouse (ekslernanto de la mortinta William Albright, kaj la komponisto de unu de la pecoj ke mi ludis kun la Blovmuzikistaro de la Ŝtatuniversitato de l' Delto antaŭ du semestroj) la muzikan komponadan premion, pro baleto ke li verkis laŭ la verko de la artisto kiu faris la skulptaĵo super la frontaj pordoj de Vaŝingtona Nacia Katedralo. Ni premiis la popularan muzikan premion al 3 Doors Down, kiu sendis la gepatrojn de unu de la muzikistaranoj por ricevi la premion. Alia rimarkinda gajnanto estis Marshall Bouldin, kiu pintis pli portretojn ke estas montritaj en la Usona Kapitolo ol ajna alia portreta artisto. Li estis eksterordinara viro, ne nur havante rimarkindon (li kaj Norman Rockwell estis bonaj amikoj), sed ankaŭ havante grandegan humilecon kaj spiritecon. Li estis tre maljuna viro, kiu posedis envieblan kvanton de ĝojon. Lia povo de preĝi kaj mediti feliĉigis lin. La aliaj gajnantoj estas listigitaj en la MIAL retpaĝaro: La tuta vespero estis tre amuza, informa, kaj inda kiom membreco kostas. Mi estis tie per tri oficoj—kiel antaŭa gajnanto, kiel nuna kandidato, kaj kiel lojala ano de la MIAL. Tiom da interesaj homoj venas ĉi tiun eventon. Mi sidis ĉe tablo kun Lee McCarty, la fama potisto. Ni dividis multajn bonegajn rakontojn.

Tiam vespere, mi reveturis Ĵaksonon por veki dum la sekva mateno por pli aferaj sesioj de la Misisipia Unuiĝinta Metodista Eklezio.

La tuta semajnofino estis tre interesa.

En tiu dimanĉo vespere, mi kolektis sufiĉan kuraĝon por peti virinon kun kiu mi estis aminta kaŝe en la daŭro de kvin jaroj se ŝi estus interesita pri havi amrilaton. Surprize, ŝi konfesis ke ŝi estis sentinta same en la sama daŭro. Mi renkontis ŝin ĉe Honora Ĥoro 2004, kaj depost tiam, ni ambaŭ kaŝe sentis specialan amon por la alia. Nenecesa por diri, ni komencas havi amrilaton.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Last night, I went to the Adath Israel Temple to be present as the Jews observed the beginning of the Shabbat. At the time, the Episcopal church happened to be hosting an interfaith weekend for the sake of education, so the congregation was half Christian, and half Jewish. It was a lovely prayer service, and I got to brush up on my Hebrew (Honestly, the actual Hebrew was easier to read than the transliterations provided, since there were so many hyphens in it). Rabbi Danziger gave his sermon on the absolute truth of peace and how that relates to the violent situations around the world. Following the service was a potluck dinner, where many Episcopals had brought dishes as well as the Jews. During the dinner, I noticed that one of the dishes was green beans with bacon for flavor. As I ate it, it dawned on me that it was the first time I had eaten pork in a Jewish temple. But the fact that nothing came from that is a testament to the ecumenical nature of the community. Almost everyone is genuinely friendly here, regardless of faith.

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם

Member hunt!

The hunt for all the members of the Delta State chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia has been very successful so far.  At this point, I have managed to find about 240 of the guys, complete with photos of themselves and their big brothers.  As I find each one, I put him on the web site at under “Alumni Brothers.”

Learning about the various people in the chapter and the stories surrounding them never fails to be interesting to me.  While at the University Archives perusing the yearbooks between 1960 and the present again, I found two more chapter yearbook group photos that I had missed in my first perusal.  These were the 1982 photo and the 1974 photo.

The 1974 photo here shows a couple of familiar faces, but most interesting to me is the diversity of the whole group.  There are four African-Americans, one hippie, a few modern-looking white people, and a few 60’s-looking white people.  All these people were initiated into a fraternity chapter on a campus in Mississippi in 1974.  I’d say that this photograph is a good piece of evidence for the historical progressiveness of the chapter, as well as for the universal truth that the power of music transcends personal differences.  There are people in that picture who were members of the chapter during the civil rights movement itself.  This is particularly interesting in light of the recent article in the campus newspaper.  The article was about one of the “major white” fraternities pledging an African American man in the fall of 2008, and how this was somehow a new situation, to “sprinkle some chocolate into a sea of vanilla,” as the article stated.  The author of the article seemed to miss the fact that at the time of the article’s publishing, the Theta Upsilon chapter had five African Americans in its collegiate membership, and well over 30 in its entire membership.  In that article, that was only one level of inaccuracy.  Another level was the regarding a person of another skin color as different from the rest of the IFC fraternity men at all, which not only oversimplifies the difference between the people groups, but noticeably discriminates between them.  Diversity of minds is a virtue, I believe, but is it wholly necessary to write an article about one black man who pledged a fraternity that is not known for having black members, particularly even before his initiation into full membership?  In any case, the entire issue of celebrating diversity without discriminating is a very difficult issue to tackle.