You may have noticed my absence recently from blogging...not that I have chosen to be absent, but Fatima has been a very busy parish since Divine Mercy Sunday. Our new pastor is now building on the firm foundation set by Monsignor Provost, now Bishop Provost of Lake Charles. At the same time, the physical work in replacing the organ console began, and in the two months following, we have enjoyed a number of visits from technicians to work out computer bugs and minor tuning issues. We also hosted the Schantz voicers for two weeks as they went over the instrument with a fine toothed comb, tuning and voicing. Now, the parish offices are being completely renovated. The music office has a new coat of BVM Blue paint, but still has no carpet. In order to save some cash, the professional painters worked the ceilings of the office building and painted the central atrium, while the staff were resposible for their own office walls and those of whatever remaining offices needed to be painted. In 1.5 weeks, the DRE, the parish secretary, the pastor, and I painted 6 spacious offices. The Social Service woman and and the bookkeeper only painted their own offices and watched us paint the others (but who am I to speak of their reward?). The musical contents of the office is now housed in their temporary digs in my guest bedroom at home. My organ scores are stacked across the floor in neat piles according to historical period. Choral anthologies and Masses are stacked in another part of the room, next to music scholarship and hymnals. Hopefully on August 3 (the scheduled date) the new carpet for the music office will arrive and be installed, so that I can move back into my office. Meanwhile, plans are being drawn up for a complete renovation of the choir oratory to remove a suspended ceiling, install modern, functional lighting fixtures, paint, and to address proper a/c air flow issues. The summer choir reahearsal schedule is now underway with intense study of chant and work to increase ear training skills. We hope the choir oratory work will be completed by the 2nd Sunday of September, the choir's first Sunday back at Mass.
In the midst of all this hectic craziness, I traveled to Memphis June 6th to take Part I of the American Guild of Organists choir master exam. I received word Saturday, that my efforts were not in vain, and that I, in fact, PASSED the exam. Next year, I plan to take Part II, the written portion. Conducting included the following gems: the Hassler Cantate Domino (deliscious!), the Gwenyth Walker 23rd Psalm (sorta like drinking sour milk with a vodka and Ouzo chaser), and the Brittain Jubilate Deo (I wanted to string up the accompanist for not allowing me my tempi for that -- it made for an interesting tug-of-war with 4 singers sight reading Brittain, and an accompanist who thought "slow down" meant "allegro vivace"). The second half of the exam was keyboard theory torture. Fun with cadences of the nasty sort in F-sharp minor. I was allowed a treat of ice cream at the end: the final section was a "sight reading" of the Bach setting of Schmuecke Dich. The exam was conducted in the choir room (fancy shmancy: an atrium practice room, choir below, and choir library upstairs on a mezzanine level -- good stewardship there) of the Idlewild Presbyterian Church in Memphis. The English academic Gothic building looked like the Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry. The church itelf was a copy of the Great Hall, sans floating candles.