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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Victors*


I can't believe it.

The call came out of the blue last Friday, and it's totally changed my life.

The director of the music library at Rowan University (Glassboro NJ) called and asked if I would still like a job. I was in utter shock; he told me that my name was high up on the list of candidates for a position that I applied for in the beginning of 2014, but for some reason wasn't selected for an interview.  Anyway, there's been a lot of movement in the department and now they need someone to fill in on an adjunct basis, with the definite possibility of moving to a permanent position.

There are a couple of down sides to this development.  First, on the purely silly: I can't run the practical joke I was going to play on the local classical music radio station, and I'm really vexed about it. Second, if the job becomes permanent, I have to establish residency in New Jersey. My girls want to finish high school where they are.  I can apply for an exemption to the rule, but who knows what it will take?

On the other hand, my dream of working in an academic situation to help my kids pay for school is about to come true. God is good, and he has truly showered his blessings on me this week. Combined with getting to do a concerto with the Warminster (PA) Symphony, this has been one of my best weeks ever. Alleluia!

I must get some sleep. Onward.

*--Louis Elbel, 1898. Fight Song of the University of Michigan. Go Blue!!!

UPDATE:Yesterday evening, of one of the best days of my life, I attended rehearsal for Archdiocesan Choir.   We sang music of Faure, Stanford, Palestrina, Mozart, and Herbert Howells.  At the end, we did Vaughan Williams' O Clap Your Hands. Perfect end to a near-perfect day. My heart is full.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Strife is O'er*

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!

In the Lutheran tradition (and other Christian churches, I'm sure), the funeral service emphasizes the Resurrection, with corresponding hymns.  I couldn't think of a better prelude to my remembrance of my high school orchestra teacher, Gerrit Van Ravenswaay. This was originally posted on Facebook:


Today I learned of the passing of my high school orchestra teacher, Gerrit Van Ravenswaay, or as most of his students called him, “Mr. Van”.  Although it’s been over thirty years since I last played under his baton, the lessons I learned in his 5th period orchestra remain with me to this day.  My first concert with the orchestra featured the Grand Rapids-based Jubal Brass Ensemble, who joined us on the finale for a performance of the last movement of Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony.  As a lowly sophomore tooting away on my Bundy trombone, I felt overwhelmed, overmatched, and really out of place. He didn’t have to say anything; the expectation was that I would improve, and even though I earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Music, I’m still practicing, forty-plus years later.

The music was always important, and Mr. Van challenged us with the best. Symphonies by Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Haydn, student performances of concertos by Lalo, Wieniawski, and Gordon Jacob, and Wagner’s Parsifal were all on the program during my time at Holland High.  He encouraged us to seek out more demanding performance venues, like Grand Rapids Youth Symphony, music camps, and All-State ensembles.

But the music, as exalted as much of it was, paled in comparison to the life lessons we learned.  He had so much to teach that would make us better people and better citizens, and I remember the orchestra would sit patiently while Mr. Van held forth on some topic totally unrelated to what we were playing that day.  It never seemed like preaching—although I can imagine some folks might have seen it that way—and  I often wondered what his sons Steve and Gary, as well as his daughter Julie, were thinking as we sat together in class.

The people with whom I performed in the Holland High School Orchestra have grown up and grown older, and some perform on the instruments they did in high school, but most have gone on to other things. I won’t say I was one of the lucky ones; even though a good part of my adult life has been spent performing music of the great composers—which is truly a blessing, make no mistake—the greater blessing was to have learned life lessons from Mr. Van as a trombonist in his orchestra, and later as a teaching colleague and trusted friend.  Thank you, Mr. Van, and well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Amen.
Onward.

*--Words: Un­known au­thor, poss­ib­ly 12th Cen­tu­ry (Fi­ni­ta jam sunt prael­ia); trans­lat­ed from La­tin to Eng­lish by Fran­cis Pott, Hymns Fit­ted to the Or­der of Com­mon Pray­er, 1861.

Music: Vic­to­ry (Pal­es­tri­na), Gi­o­van­ni P. da Pal­es­tri­na, Mag­nif­i­cat Ter­tii To­ni, 1591

Sunday, August 3, 2014

One More River to Cross*

A college classmate and fraternity brother shared this with me recently. I had taken a buzzfeed quiz as to which Warner Brothers character I was and got Wile E. Coyote. My friend had an interesting take on it that seemed to fit in our current struggles to find meaningful employment in our field:

"Wile E. Coyote and Winston Churchill had a lot in common. He said that success was the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. I guess you are in great company with Winston and Wile."
Onward.
*--Traditional,  http://www.negrospirituals.com/news-song/one_more_river_to_cross.htm via "Spirituals", by William Stiickles, coll. 1948.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

All By Myself*

I'm taking a MOOC through Coursera on copyright law that is offered by Duke University. Started last week, and find it to be as thorny and complex as it was when we covered it at Clarion (I've forgotten which class).  One of the discussion board posts had to do with the student's school or employer policy on personal work and copyright.  As I wasn't aware if we had one, I inquired first of my library director (no response) and then the director of the main library of our county system--who referred me to the executive director, who informed me that the county didn't have a policy, but that I would have to check with my employer, who either would or wouldn't have a policy. I'll take that as a no.

I have to wonder about the viability of such a "system", where it's clear that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing--or otherwise doesn't care. That and $8.50 an hour might get you a cup of coffee. Onward.

*--Eric Carmen, Eric Carmen, 1975

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Esprit de Corps*

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this strong leadership business.  Fruit doesn't always come the first day or week, or month or year.  But it comes, and we can celebrate it for the wonderful things it brings.

Last Monday I was informed by my older daughter that she was seriously considering signing up for the National Guard when she turned 17.  Where did this come from, I asked?  She told me in serious tones that she had listened to one of the speakers during business camp and that he had said, "work for a cause, not for applause"--and for her, I guess that meant military service.  Her grandfather De Kok would be proud.

Last night my younger daughter made the decision to attend our local high school for all four years rather than the charter school she had attended for the last five. She wants the opportunities in the arts she's seen her brother take advantage of over the last two years.  The Music teachers at our high school are chomping at the bit to get her.  They even asked us if DJ had any younger siblings and looked crestfallen when I told them last spring that there would be no more De Koks coming through.

So I lied.

Interview for tech position at Slippery Rock tomorrow at two. Onward.

*--Robert Jager, Marks/Leonard Publishers, 1983.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Alfie*

What's it all about, Alfie?
Why did I do this?
Why did I spend two years busting a hump to finish a second masters at Clarion?
I'm not sure it was worth it.

I have a feeling that there's two kinds of librarian candidates out there.

The first is more knowledgeable in librarianship than technology.
The second is more knowledgeable in technology than librarianship.
I have a sinking feeling that I should have become the second kind by going to Rutgers, taking their preset list of 12 classes, get the MLIS (and better chances at jobs).

105 applications out there, and I haven't had a college interview in six weeks.  The fall is getting larger in the window every minute, and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Maybe it's like K-12 teaching, and everyone waits to the last minute. But I don't think so.

I'm good at what I do. I know it. Why am I not communicating that to people?  What is wrong with me? What is wrong with what I have to offer?

Can someone give me a heads up as to what I'm doing wrong? I don't honestly have a clue.

Please.

St. Jerome, pray for me!

*--Burt Bacharach and Hal David, 1967

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Day in the life*, opus 6

Day one of the new Spring City Library is about to take place.  There's still a ton of little things to do/find/put away/clean, but we're as ready as we can be.
10 am: we're open!
1130 am: first chance to breathe. I've been nonstop activity since the doors opened. Fifteen preschoolers for story time; the computers have been a flurry of activity; people genuinely glad to be here (including me); processed five new library cards (there were weeks that went by that I didn't do that many at the old location) and updated a sixth. Whew!
1255 pm: just finishing up lunch.  I hate ordering out ($$$) but we never know how busy we'll be. Currently two kids in the reference section filling in library card apps.
415 pm: I spent much of the afternoon working on a draft of a presentation I hope to give this fall at the Music Library Association Atlantic Chapter Fall meeting in Philadelphia.  Lots of oohs and aahs from patrons who are walking in here for the first time, but not much else foot traffic.  One of our computer regulars, Mr. M., has been in three times, along with one of our hearing-impaired patrons, also a Mr. M.

I have to confess, I've enjoyed today.

*--John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967.