Posts filed under ‘Practice & Performance: Working It Out’
I received a Facebook message recently from a friend asking me about my thoughts on applauding musicians after performing during a church service. As the Soloist for seven years at The Mother Church, (the international headquarters of the Christian Science church in Boston), I had many experiences that involved applause… and many that did not.
I messaged my FB friend back with my thoughts. She then asked me to share my answer to a broader audience. This issue has come up often, so it seemed like a good thing to do. Here goes!
“My question is related to the presentation and thanking of musicians during the services: Many branch churches are considering being more socially warm toward our musicians. (organist and soloist). Since the Church Alive Summit in Northern California*, many people are questioning whether applause is acceptable. I understand that The Mother Church (TMC) does not want to influence branch churches in their decisions, but I’m wondering why at times I have heard applause in the TMC service broadcast, and not at other times.”
* Regional gatherings of Christian Scientists and friends that are held around the world
Well, put on your seatbelt… Here are a lot of thoughts comin’ atcha!
I’m going to begin with the idea of applause in church.
First, it has been my experience that each branch church is working out applause and how to be more inclusive in their services on an individual basis. I think it comes down to how the members of a particular church feel as a group.
Part 1: “How Do You Do That?”
For the past six years, I have performed as soloist at the international headquarters of a church whose services are broadcast around the world. During this time, I have sung a different solo each week matched to the sermon to follow – and I have performed most of the songs from memory.
Performing from memory is a must-have skill for any performer, and yet it can be a rather illusive process. It was, at least, for me.
This is the first of a series of posts on memorization. Through the series, I hope to share some of the wisdom and insights I have learned through exploration, study, and sheer experience.
To begin, I have been asked the following questions often and with a certain kind of urgency: “How do you do that?” “How do you memorize your songs week after week?”
These are good questions. How do I memorize a piece of music — the words, music, melody, timing, etc. and stand up and perform this way week after week? It’s not easy. I don’t recommend it for everyone. But it’s so very worth it if you can take the leap! It is an on-going spiritual, mental and physical process.
Wow! I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I have posted on my blog. I have sincerely missed writing and posting. Where does the time go? In an effort to catch up fast and move forward, I offer you… a bleet!!
What, you ask, is a bleet??? A bleet is a cross between a short blog post and a tweet. See, with a bleet, you can be short, but you don’t have to keep it to 140 characters, which, of course, is an absolute impossibility with me. (And in case you’re wondering, I just made all that up!)
So, here’s my bleet about the last 3 months:
At The Mother Church: March, April and May took me weekly up to Boston where I continue to sing as Soloist at The Mother Church. I sang some gorgeous, inspired music ranging from the wonderful contemporary songs of Mindy Jostyn, (“I And My Father Are One” and “Prodigal Child”) to a perennial favorite, “On Eagle’s Wings,” to several deeply loved traditional treasures: “Arise, Shine” by James MacDermid (with acoustic grand piano) and the healing words and music of “Reality” by Dorothy Currey Chancellor.
At The Watchfire Music Listening Room: From March through May, I performed at The WFM Listening Room in New York City. As a partner in Watchfire Music, I have been helping to develop this wonderful performance venue with Peter Link and have also co-produced concerts when not performing:
“What’s love got to do with it”? What do you mean? What’s love got to do with what? It’s got to do with your life’s work. That’s what. So, I’m not talking about Tina Turner’s legendary view of romantic love. I’m talking about that deep spiritual, elemental kind of love that commits us to our work.
I had a great opportunity to learn more about that deep elemental love in action.
Years ago when I was a young singer at the beginning of my career, I attended a recital given by Frederica von Stade, the American opera singer and recitalist.
She was, and remains to this day, one of my favorite opera singers of all time. For me, she represents the consummate artist while possessing a largess of heart and spirit. Throughout her 40-year career, her instrument was rich, agile and glorious, and she was a wonderful actress on stage. But mostly, I always felt her joy and love — not only for her craft, but for her audience as well.
So, imagine my excitement to get to experience Frederica von Stade live in recital!