Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The New-Year Jam

So... here we go again.

The place: Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God Academy, Syracuse, New York.

The dates: from December thirtieth, MMIX, to January third, MMX. This will be the Jam that bridged two years -- as one year ends in music and the praise of God, in the same another begins.... may it always be so, whether we have a New-Year Jam every year or not.

The music: Josquin desPrez' Missa Pange Lingua. Claudio Monteverdi's Christe Redemptor Omnium from the Christmas Vespers. And Christmas carols galore. We'll select more specifically for the Masses as we draw closer to the actual dates but if you want to put in your suggestions please start making them now. My first vote goes for the Huron Carol or possibly the wonderful Corde Natus ex Parentis.

Anybody?... :)

Let there be music!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jam Session 4.1

The Decimal Jam was a blast! Ignacio and I met Bibi, Dom and Father Stanich at the church on Friday afternoon, and we headed off to the Budweiser brewery. We took the tour, looking at the insanely huge vats where they ferment the beer and admiring the complex machinery in the bottling plant, and finally sitting down to enjoy beer (those who were of age) and soda (those who weren't.) Then we went back to the church to rehearse and attend First Friday Holy Hour and Mass, at which we sang -- Palestrina's lovely O Bone Jesu at Offertory, and Byrd's celestial Ave Verum at Communion, and I played an organ recessional/postlude.

After Mass, a few members of the choir for the wedding rehearsed the Missa Brevis, but mid-rehearsal I was called up to rescue the somewhat confused wedding party by playing the music for them. I ran up and, despite the lack of scores, played well enough to get a decent estimate of tempos for all of them to walk down the aisle.

When I came down again I found the choir had already dispersed and soon Father, Bibi, Dom, Billy and I headed off to dinner at Lombardo's Italian restaurant, tucked into a corner behind Union Station. We had a plentiful and hilarious meal, and when Father finally took us home we found the whole family up, despite its being nearly eleven! We settled in the library and Bibiana produced a pile of little presents for each member of the family, and even one that we had gotten for Father Stanich when I was with her in Austin - the little carved sign saying "You can take me out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of me!" Mom laughed at it and said, "The first thing you have to do in Syracuse is lock yourself into your office and nail that to the door!"

The next morning we woke up to a delightful breakfast of ham, eggs, pancakes and coffee, after which we dressed for the wedding. We ended up a very sharp-looking crowd, and it seemed no time at all until we had to pile into the car for string rehearsal. The car was packed; Mom, Domenico, Bibiana, Ignacio, Rocio, Maria and I, plus music and instruments, had quite a time getting all of ourselves in. However, get in we did, and got to the church in plenty of time to run over Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and Mozart's Ave Verum, which came out amazingly. The fact that we had a miniature string orchestra seemed to raise the level of our music several notches, choir and organists alike. At twenty to one we started the preludes; Bibiana and I played Massenet's Meditation from Thais, and then Dom joined us for Bach's Concerto for Two Violins. That still left a hole before the wedding party was ready, so Billy played something else - improvising, I believe - until we were given the "All Clear" signal and prepared for the real thing to begin.

We started with Jesu Joy, for the mothers' entrance - it's a really long piece for two mothers, but hey, they asked for it, and it came out beautiful. We used every instrument we had for that one - three violins, organ and recorder. Then I took the organ and played what were possibly the three hugest pieces anyone's ever chosen in a row: Dunstable's Agincourt Hymn for the three priests and the servers; the Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition, for the bridesmaids; and then the Great Gate of Kiev, for Stephanie herself.

The vows were spoken so softly I never heard a word; but when Father Soos came up to the pulpit to speak to the newlyweds I sat back on the organ bench and enjoyed the sermon. I wish I had taken notes, because I always love his sermons but I have a really bad memory for anything spoken - I'm better at remembering things I read. I do remember that he made a constant parallel between the vocations of the priest and the married couple, addressing himself at once to Ryan and Stephanie and to Father Sick, ordained this June, who came to be subdeacon for the Solemn Mass; it was a lovely sermon. At the end, as Stephanie offered her bouquet to Our Lady, we sang the Magnificat, and then I pulled out all the stops for the recessional, the Allegro of Bach's Organ Concerto in A Minor.

Afterward we gathered in the choir room to rehearse once more for the reception, as Stephanie had requested live music. We had some contra-dance tunes, and Bibi and I had our Handel and Beethoven, and of course, there was the Mandolin Concerto to play. Father Stanich was nervous; he had never played while he was our pastor, so of course he had to have it perfect! We finally piled into Father's car and drove off to St. Charles, where the reception was held. We arrived to discover Brandon and Ignacio enthroned in what they labeled "the Cynics' Corner", which became the end of the Musicians' Table.

When the bridal party arrived, we were settling ourselves into the opposite end of the room where the speakers were; and when dinner was served, Bibi and I kicked off the music with Beethoven's Spring sonata. From there, we played just about anything; Bibi and I took our chance to grab a bite when Domenico, Ignacio and Billy (violin, guitar and piano) started an improvisation on a two-chord progression provided by Dom, which turned out amazing! Later we moved everything to the middle of the room for Father's concerto, which was received politely enough, though, typical for weddings, there were children screaming in the background almost the whole time. The keyboard and mikes were still there when the dancing began and we stood by enjoying Ryan and Stephanie's waltz, (Delibes' Valse Lente from Coppélia,) and then the daddy-daughter dance and Ryan's dance with his mother, before everyone else crowded onto the floor. I was asked for every one - there weren't that many, but I danced with Dom, Billy and another friend or two before we ended up degenerating into the hilarious but insane Broom Dance. Of course, there were way too many girls, but the men kept up their end and we danced for about twenty minutes to a wild series of reels and polkas. After that, Ryan asked us why we weren't playing and Dom, taking the hint, took the keyboard to improvise on Blue Moon and Summertime. Then the violins, guitar and accordion emerged and we started jamming out - contra tunes and an improvised polka, finally degenerating into the Duck Dance and Chopsticks, and Good Night Ladies at the end! We came home at midnight, had hot milk and honey and Dom and I sat down at the piano, where he showed me some basics of jazz, and an hour went by before we noticed it!

The next day after High-Mass we had breakfast with the newlyweds, and then we drove down to the Kokenges', where we spent a delightful afternoon which culminated, as usual, in a barbecue, Compline and music. Eight-year-old Agus even played a bit on his bagpipe for us, and we had the time of our lives! This was the night that we watched Hoodwinked, and the Gattozzis, who had not seen it, died laughing.

Monday we went to Grant's Farm, found it was closed, and spent a fun morning in the Visitor Center of Grant's house, though we didn't trouble to take the tour of the inside of the house -- it was too nice of a day to take an hour to walk through a house we could do in ten minutes! We walked home for lunch and then loaded all their things into the car and went off to Ted Drewes for ice cream. After that we dropped two of the girls at piano and, on a brilliant whim of Ignacio's, went over to MusicFolk to look at instruments and scores. We came out richer by a little book of mandolin pieces for Father Stanich, a sheet-music notebook for me, a bumper sticker that said "if you can read this, thank your piano teacher", and a book of Caribbean piano rhythms that Dom had discovered. By now it was time to drop Rocio off at piano and head for the airport, which we did. On the way I drafted a dedication for Father's little book and then we went through the check-in line, signed the book, and said our goodbyes -- "till Syracuse!"

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jam Session 4.1 (a special edition!)

Jam Session 4.1: Stephanie's Wedding is just around the bend! Tomorrow, actually! The Gattozzis are coming up to St. Louis, armed with bow and ... um, fiddle, and passing through Houston to take the same flight as Father Stanich; so I get to meet them all at the airport and drag them home with me for random acts of music and lots of de-Erausquin-style fun. Which is LOTS of fun!

The music for the wedding is going to be amazing! We are singing the Palestrina Missa Brevis, of beloved Jam I memory (why can't all the Jammers come help us sing it?); the Offertory hymn is O Sanctissima, and the Communion will be Mozart's Ave Verum with full string section - three violins, one masquerading as viola. But the best part of the whole thing, I think, will be blasting out Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with every stop out on the organ: the Promenade was chosen for the bridesmaids' march, and the Great Gate of Kiev for the bride.

Not to be content with a really awesome Nuptial Mass, Stephanie asked for live music at the reception. So there will be jazz from Dom and classical music from all of us, including Fr. Stanich's rendition of the Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto in C. Good times, good times... I'll post how it all went afterwards!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two humorous "Poems By Tom"

Here are a couple of humorous poems, I wrote on the spur of the moment when responding to some commentary on my poem " Wedding Day", I'm posting it here because we thought the other Jammers might enjoy it.( if they ever look here, =\ )

The First one is a "sequel" to the poem afore mentioned. Here it is I hope y'all like it! ( I suggest reading Wedding Day before you read this you would more see the humor in it.) ( be merciful I only spent 2 minutes to write it =P . )

( yet to be titled)

OH how happy I used to be like a Bird upon the wind;
but now my will, to this Tyrant-witch, I bend.

OH how wretched am I; I serve her night, and day,
and my only reward for this, is a passing glances this way.

And every time she looks at me it sends a shiver down my spine;
OH God this must be a punishment for all my wretched crimes

I serve her night, and day with my soul, and will to hers bent;
Oh how hard it is to bear such a wretched punishment.

OH why was I, to her bound for all eternity?!
I miss my freedom of bachelorhood, and its sweet serenity!

and here is a poem I wrote to honor the Angelic beauty of our friend, Rocio. ( I am only kidding, I don't really think this about Rocio) ( she is very pretty =) ( The only reason I wrote this about Rocio, was in respones to here comment on, wedding Day )

Ode To Rocio

OH Rocio, oh Rocio
Your dark, and deep eyes are like
The large and endless Sea-o
Your hair is like the mulch which people pay so much to buy;
And, oft I wish I could have some!! to replenish my garden's supply.

And I so miss your voice which I have little heard;
but I do remember it sounded like an aged and old buzzard.

Ohhh and your gracefulness, it was like that of pink elephants on parade;
but no, perhaps it was closer to hippos, doing ballet!!

And your teeth were white like granny's, which she did soak almost every night;
so that every time I saw you, I was blinded by those pearls of yellow-white!

I am only kidding, I love you, Ro =P

Monday, July 27, 2009

The First Jam Wedding!

(Or, well, the first wedding of two Jammers,) was on Saturday!

God bless you, Conrad and Erin, and grant you all happiness in your married life!

Dear Conrad and Erin,
Today you are wed;
May ten thousand blessings
Pour down on each head;
For one out of two
Is woven today,
As two violins
One sweet melody play.
Santiago protect you,
Your guardian divine;
May your children flourish
As grapes on the vine;
And may the sweet notes
Of your holy accord
Be one richly harmonized
Praise to Our Lord.
As Mary and Joseph
May both of you be
United forever
In true charity;
One mind and one heart,
One true love alway,
Till death do you part,
As you vowed on this day.
--July 25, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another, Poem By Tom, " mass for the dead"

Today I went to a funeral, a Mrs. Mary Jane Smith, she was an old woman, she had 6 children,
11 ( I think ) grand children and 3 great-grand children. The High mass was at St. Judes' chapel, in Stafford TX. It was very Beautiful Sam. sang the mass, alone...... (by choice, lol thats Sam for you, but No one at St. Jude's can sing as good as he, anyways...) it was very beautiful And it was old Fr. Campbell, who was saying the mass, I wrote a poem on it here it is, hope you like it. sorry for any miss-spellings. I just wrote it like half-n-hour ago, tell me what you think.

A mass for the Dead

To see
velvet garments in mournful black,
gently swaying back and forth;
like the swinging of the pendulum, that keeps time on us all,
draped over old Father Time himself.
With every solemn genuflection
of his shaking frame,
there was a sort of tired plea
for mercy on the departed soul.

While gently, and steadily,
like the moon hung tide,
did Sam's voice ebb and flow
with the solemn tones of the mass.

Solemn and, quiet sat the black draped coffin,
silently listening to the mournful prayers
made by the priest's shaking voice;
and then to the steady reply,
in its gently chanted, solemn tones.

So, silently stood I,
as the mournful asperges
wept its blessed tears over the quiet coffin.
While the thurifer silently breathed over it
his incensed breath, to give escort
to the soul, as she slowly walked down the aisle,
to be united, for all eternity,
with her heavenly Bridegroom.

Then solemnly, did the coffin follow Christ,
to its resting place;
till he comes again.
Accompanying this was Sam's steady voice
that seemed to follow
the Coffin as it left the Church.

Then all was silent;
except the Altar boy's small button,
brushing against the pole of Christ's cross;
Which did sound as an iron bell's pean,
mournfully ringing in the distance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jam-Session Fanfiction?

Yep... it now exists! Because, as Bibi and I recalled the ghost stories of Friday night, sitting on the stump in front of the school building, we thought there should be a ghost story set in the Jam itself. So here, for fun, (with a picture for context), is

The Demon of the Stump: a Jam-Session Story

The summer night was cool and dark in the shadow of the distant mountains; but a street-lamp shed a golden glow over the long, low building that had once been a church and was now a school.

In the silence, something stirred by the stump a few feet from the door. Two glowing red eyes shone evilly from a black, hideous face; two black bat wings unfolded to the night air, fouling the clean desert breeze as a great figure rose to tower menacingly over the little building.

The Demon of the Stump growled to himself. For many years he had hidden there, waiting for his chance; but now, he would wait no longer.

"Souls I will have, tonight," he hissed. "Oh, yes... These little fools who think they can win souls for the Enemy by their drumming and fiddling and four-part screeching! Oh, they will suffer for it..."

He vanished back into the stump and waited, peering out. A fifteen-seater van pulled through the gates and a crowd of laughing girls jumped out, chattering about the opera they had just heard, preceded by a bespectacled young man who gave each one a hand to help her out and the priest who had driven them, at the sight of whom the Demon snorted in disgust.

"The kind, the wise, the athletically gifted, the.... the idiot!" he muttered. "How did he come up with these jam things anyway? Sickeningly 'wholesome fun'... ugh."

"One of you should come and take the key and lock the gate," the priest remarked.

"I'll go," one of the girls spoke up - a tall, slim girl with a mass of bright golden-brown curls tumbling over her shoulders and merry brown eyes.

"All right, Bibiana."

"I'm coming too," said another, a smaller girl with straight brown hair and dark-brown eyes, clad in a frilly light-blue dress which made the Demon snort again.

The girls poured into the building, and the Demon watched the two girls walk down toward the gates after the van. The priest passed them the key and they closed the gate, bidding him good night and turning back toward the building.

The Demon glared at the two approaching figures.

"Those two. The ones who wrote that song..." (adding a couple of demonic adjectives not to be repeated.) "Well, good... they will suffer for it!"

He rose from the stump, reducing the lamp to sparking smithereens with one blow of his hellish fist; and the girls backed away in terror from the towering shadow with the glowing red eyes, clinging to each other, voiceless with fear.

"You can run, but you can't hide," the Demon hissed with an evil chuckle.

Both began to recite the Hail Mary, voices shaking. At the detested name, the Demon cowered. Seeing it, the two advanced on him, repeating the prayer in louder tones. He rose up with a roar of fury and pain that echoed from the very mountains. The voices faltered; but the two had reached the foot of the ten-foot Crucifix that stood at the corner of the building, and as he sprang on them he fell back as if burned.

The younger girl set her back against the Crucifix and spoke in a voice that did not seem hers - clear and ringing as a bronze bell, with a power that was beyond her own, with words that were not her own.

"Vade retro, Satana! Scriptum est enim: "Dominum Deum tuum adorabis et illi soli servies."

Her companion gasped; and she looked at the Crucifix above her in time to see the right hand pull away from the wood and point at the Demon, who, with a scream that left Albuquerque shivering all the rest of the night, vanished in a flash of flame, leaving them in absolute darkness.

The two fell to their knees, with a prayer of thanksgiving; and went in to explain to the girls, who were all shivering with terror, what that sound had been, and what had taken them so long.

The next morning, as they all came out to wait for their ride to Mass, one of the girls exclaimed, "Look at the Crucifix!"

The right arm of the Crucifix still pointed to where the Demon had stood; and where the stump had been was only a burned and blackened patch of ground.