Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Night of Music-making and Memory-making

Wednesday salutations from a very rainy Midwest.

The WLP Sing the Seasons choral reading session at Saint Francis of Assisi in New York City on Monday evening was such a treat.

Here are a few photos, taken by Christopher Ferraro (Thanks, Chris!)

So grateful to Meredith Augustin, the music director at Saint Francis, for her hospitality and her keyboard and amazing vocal skills. Two of Meredith's recordings are published by WLP, Deep River, and Come and Go with Me.

Here is a photo of Meredith as she sang one of the solo sections from WLP's Only Love. This is a wonderful piece from our "In Spirit and Truth" series. Listen to a clip.

One of the highlights of the evening for me came when we sang the WLP classic In the Breaking of the Bread by Michael Ward. Listen to a clip.

This is one of those pieces that captured my heart many years ago. And it was wonderful that Michael Ward was in attendance at the event in New York. Here is the email I sent to my staff here yesterday about that powerful moment:

Last night, at the New York City Sing the Seasons event, Michael Ward was in attendance (composer of WLP’s In the Breaking of the Bread, one of the best-selling octavos of all time for us).

When I was about 27 years-old, I was at an NPM convention in Long Beach, CA. I got lost one night trying to find the church where a concert sponsored by WLP was being held.

In the distance, I began to hear some music and, as I walked toward it, I said to myself, “What is this glorious music?” I entered the church and the choir and instrumentalists were singing In the Breaking of the Bread. It captured my heart. I bought the cassette and ordered the music. When I returned to my parish in Florida, I played the recording for my 50-voice choir and I watched their faces as their hearts were captured.

It has always remained one of my favorite pieces of choral music. I have played it and conducted it hundreds of times over the past may years.

Well, last night, I met Michael for the first time. I told him, before we got started, that he was one of my heroes, someone who has inspired me as a musician. I asked if he would play In the Breaking of the Bread at the choral reading session; it happened to be one of the pieces we were singing last night. He agreed.

When the moment came and he began that introduction, I could hardly believe it. God gives us these moments in our lives; I wish they happened more often.

It was a moment of musical clarity, when nearly thirty years of music-making just flashed before my eyes.

I conducted the piece in a glorious church with scores of talented musicians.

I watched many of them reduced to tears in that awesome moment.

When we finished the final measure, with the sopranos singing that high “G,” I was overwhelmed.

I walked to the piano and just held Michael’s hands.

This was a powerful evening for me and a delight to have so many fine musicians gathered to bring the music of WLP to life. I will leave you with a short video I took. Meredith is improvising at the piano and you can get a glimpse of this beautiful church.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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