Sunday, October 4, 2009


I didn't post this last week, simply because the cantor at St. John's reads our snark blog regularly. But I can now say this...

I interviewed at the Church of St. Thomas Aquinas in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston on Monday of last week. The organ was an interesting sort - a three-manual E. and G.G. Hook tracker built in 1854, rebuilt by George Hutchings in 1892. This organ received a Historic Organ Citation from the Organ Historical Society in 2000. The attached console with very high seat and extra high pedal board made for some interesting posture while auditioning (I'm only 5'11", so it's not like I'm a man of NBA height).

The conversation with the pastor, Fr. Michael Harkins, went over very well, IMO. I like a lot of his liturgical outlook, and I like his desire for dialogue between music director and pastor. Further, a good friend of mine had attended Holy Mass there and gave me the music list for that day. On the most part, I thought it was very respectable, as did he. The only bullet bitten was Shepherd Me, O God by Marty Haugen.

However, all came to an end when I got an e-mail the following Thursday. The incumbent organist decided to stay on board. Truthfully, I have no problem with an incumbent having a change of heart. I'd be curious as to where he had originally intended to go. I might give THAT a shot. Hey, at least it wasn't "Thank you for your interest. However, we hired someone else."


To boot, just last Tuesday, Fr. Harbour at St. John's (where I had been filling in for the late Paul Martin) called me up. I didn't get that job either. The factor, of course, was the skills (or lack thereof) needed to take charge of the Spanish Masses. After all, the Spanish Mass crowds outnumbered the English Mass crowds by a 7:1 margin. So, there was a good idea where Fr. Harbour had to set his priorities.

There's something unique about this rejection, though. I give Fr. Harbour a load of respect, more than most, for the simple reason that he was man enough to actually give me a call, face up to letting me know of his decision, and even WHY he made his decision, as opposed to the typical chicken-shit rejection letter that I'm used to receiving elsewhere. I find Fr. Harbour to be a very holy man of God, I thank him for having me for the three months I was there, and I wish him and his parish well.


The last organist before Paul Martin was Dave Sylvester, another good friend of mine, who has been keeping me abreast of any job openings he may hear of. The two men ran neck-and-neck in terms of longevity at St. John's. Paul was there 19 years (1990 until his death in 2009). Dave was there 20 years (1970-1990). It was he that actually revived the organ at St. John's in many ways upon his arrival. He also let me in on the two reeds marked "Hautbois l'ouvres" and "Trompette l'ouvres". As I mentioned before, these two make great chorus reeds. In all actuality, these two reeds are simply loud Gambas. There was much more that he was telling me about the organ last night, but I didn't get to absorb it all (after all, it was 10:00 last night).

It was still a fun organ to play, and I felt like a pro playing it.


is when I got the e-mail from Fr. Jerry DiGiralmo, the director at the Chapel of Our Savior, asking me to fill in while their organist is away on vacation. I got a lot of compliments last night after both Masses. I'm looking forward to the next two Saturdays there. BTW, that same friend I mentioned that attended Mass at the Boston church where I interviewed/auditioned is the same friend who gave my name to one of the Brothers at the Chapel, who, in turn, gave it to Fr. Jerry. So I say, thank you Rich! ;)


PS: On Friday, October 9, the Chapel will be holding an Extraordinary Form Mass. Unfortunately my hours at the day job (that's another story - grrrr!) prevent me from getting there that night. It's understood that the choir that sings the Extraordinary Form Mass at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Church in Newton, MA, will provide the music that night. Should be really good!


DominiSumus said...

Sorry the auditions didn't work out. Don't give up, something will break.

As for the choir at Mary Immaculate...they are spectacular!

Steve Cavanaugh said...


we'll be announcing the formation of a chant class at the Chapel Mass on Oct 9, which will be hosted by the friars. Haven't set the dates yet, because I want to find out what the availability of the prospective singers is. We got two names at the EF Mass at Sacred Heart, Middleboro last Sunday for this same class.