I have loved music my entire life. My mother was a music major in college (singing under Weston Noble at Luther College before transferring to Wagner) and directed the local church choir as a volunteer for a number of years. My father used to love to play silly songs with his guitar on frequent occasions. I'm sure I wore out my parents' ears by singing endlessly as I was growing up. For most periods of my life I have been involved with at least two or three musical groups at any one time, beginning probably in Middle School. There was a time in my life when I might have defined myself primarily as a musician.
I had PIANO lessons beginning at a young age and have mastered a few good pieces, but sight-read only stumblingly. I look forward to a time when we can get a piano in the house and I can play more regularly again.
I took up the FLUTE in 6th grade, continuing through 12th, playing in the Marinette High School Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Pep Band and Marching Bands under the direction of Paul Luhring (among others), as well as participating in State Solo and Ensemble Competitions, and Summer Music Camp in Madison. I still play my flute on occasion to accompany a choral work at church or the like.
For one year, when suffering from a broken arm, I took up the French Horn and the Cornet so that I could continue to participate in band while the arm healed. I also got the occasional turn in the percussion section. My AFS sister Caroline Rousseau (from Quebec) also played the French Horn (but she was actually good at it). My mom and sister Dawn play the clarinet and piano. Occasionally we had flute-clarinet duets, but more often singing duets. After-dinner sing-alongs at the piano were a regular occurrence at our house. Sunday evening Hymn Sings on the Lake (at the summer cottage) and Christmas Caroling around the neighborhood (Dec. 23rd) has been a family tradition for as long as I can remember.
Towards the end of high school I took up the RECORDER, which I play entirely by ear (most often by myself in the woods or on a mountain top). I also taught myself some GUITAR chords so I could accompany myself in singing folk music. This I still enjoy a great deal. On occasion I have used the guitar to lead the singing in church youth group contexts and the like, or at campfire sing-alongs.
During and after college I studied music part-time as a special student for a few years at Westminster Choir College in Princeton NJ. I took a number of courses in CHORAL CONDUCTING, Church Music, Choral Repertoire, Music History, Music Theory, Voice, Vocal Pedagogy, Children's Choirs, and HANDBELLS. I even had the chance to conduct a couple of handbell choirs at the Princeton Alliance Church one year - one for teens and one for adults - which I enjoyed greatly. I also enjoyed conducting a children's choir at PAC, and being student conductor of the Princeton Madrigal Society for a year, as well as occasionally having the opportunity to conduct a regular anthem at church, or to lead hymn singing.
For the most part what I have done however is SING - everywhere, all the time, in all kinds of contexts and groups of various sorts - mostly CHORAL SINGING, some solo singing (solos, duets, trios, quartets), folk music, and musical theater. I had my first solo (that I remember) in the 3rd grade. Middle School choir was followed by Marinette High School Concert Choir (under the direction of Jay Jensen), Swing Choir, various Musical Theater productions (Becky in "Tom Sawyer," Peppermint Patty in "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," a daughter in "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off," Amy(?) in "Bye, Bye Birdie," Liesl in "The Sound of Music"...), plus numerous State Solo and Ensemble Competitions and Summer Music Camps in Madison.
In College I joined the Princeton Madrigal Society (4 yrs, most memorably under the direction of Janet Davis), the Princeton Glee Club (2 or 3 yrs, under the direction of Walter Nollner), the Princeton Chamber Choir (going on summer tours to Eastern Europe and Europe in 1982 and to the Far East in 1983, under the direction of Walter Nollner), and the Princeton Chapel Choir (Junior yr, also under Walter Nollner). All of these also offered ample opportunity for solo and small ensemble work as well. My favorites were probably the "Et in Unum" duet from the Bach B-Minor Mass (1982), the "Quia Respexit" from the Bach Magnificat (1984?), and the "Ich Folge Dir" from the Bach St. John Passion (1985). I also took private voice lessons and even gave a Senior Voice Recital of Bach pieces. I also helped to found a (short-lived) small Christian a cappella group called "Cornerstone." I still sing solos, duets, trios and quartets regularly for weddings and other church services on request.
During the next 4 years, while working as a paralegal and studying part-time at Westminster Choir College, I joined the Adult Church Choir at Princeton Alliance Church (doing a bit of conducting and leading youth group worship on the side). I also participated in various Senior Conducting Choirs at Westminster, and attended concerts of various sorts just about every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Probably the best choir I have ever sung with to date was during this period: The Princeton Singers - a small, semi-professional choir under the expert direction of John Bertalot, rehearsing out of Trinity Episcopal Church in Princeton. This choir included a number of professional musicians of one sort or another - some from nearby Westminster Choir College, some music majors from Princeton University, some conductors in their own right, some commuting from as far away as Philadelphia, Rumson NJ or NYC for the weekly 2-hr rehearsal. Rehearsals were no-nonsense from beginning to end. Members would arrive early and arrange the pieces to be rehearsed in order in their folders from a list on the blackboard. The first downbeat would come precisely at starting time, no note-pounding, no talking. Mistakes were acknowledged by raising your hand, so there would be no need to go back for correction. Starting again on a passage rarely required a new pitch to be given. The blend of the choir was superb, musicality was exemplary, and the sight-reading ability of the choir would bring most music fully to life on first reading - the music unfolding before our ears as a new creation freshly formed as intended by its composer - sending shivers down my spine during most rehearsals. Rehearsals here were often of a higher quality than most performances of other choirs in which I have sung. On the other hand, when I once missed half of one rehearsal because of a late train from NYC, I found myself sight-reading two pieces at the next concert... The highlight of my 5 years with this choir was probably the Tour of English Cathedrals in the summer of 1988, and then just the exposure to so much marvelous choral music. This choir was probably what I missed most upon finally leaving Princeton.
While attending seminary in Vancouver I sang in the Regent College Choir. Then, too, the entire Mennonite congregation of the Point Grey Fellowship (now the Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship) which I attended often acted as a choir itself - pulling out some rather challenging anthems and handing them round to sing on a regular basis.
At Harvard in Cambridge I did a brief one-year stint with Musica Sacra - a small community choir rehearsing out of Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church under the direction of Mary Beekman, but gave up on its rather demanding 10 hr/wk rehearsal schedule in order to concentrate on the more demanding linguistic studies of my graduate program. Then, after successfully passing all of my coursework and general exams, I found the opportunity to sing for three semesters with the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (Harvard's mostly-undergraduate mixed choir, under the direction of Jameson Marvin), the highlight of which was our performance of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 - probably the most polished and exquisite performance of which I have ever been a part. The performance came only 4 days after the birth of my first son, who, at 4-days-old soundlessly attended the performance just as he had attended all of the rehearsals in utero. The choir then gave us a fond farewell, having adopted Alexander as an honorary member of the choir. I also had the opportunity that spring to join the Harvard University Chapel Choir at Memorial Church for a performance of the Bach B-Minor Mass, plus a few other special services. I was very impressed by the professionalism of this group under the direction of Murray Somerville, coming from the same strict British choral tradition as John Bertalot of Princeton. I was most honored to be included. Following that, although my added child-rearing responsibilities made attendance at rehearsals more difficult, I did find time to sing with the Choir of St. James Church where I attended, under Patrick Michaels. This was a wonderful experience in its own way, with more of the spiritual benefits of close fellowship and involvement in worship.
In Williamsport I have greatly enjoyed attending concerts by the absolutely superb Lycoming College Choir, directed by Fred Thayer, and, since completing my dissertation, have been singing under Alan Landon as a member of the Trinity Episcopal Church Choir, including serving as the cantor for Evensong services at Trinity and Christ Church. I also sang under Gary Boerckel in the chorus for a local production of "Amal and the Night Visitors." I have also greatly enjoyed parental involvement with the local Suzuki Violin group under Pat Thayer, as my son William has been playing Suzuki violin since 2005. My son Alexander has been learning piano under Yvonne Mitchell and viola at Cochran under Mr. Radspinner since 2005.
Following is a list of the various musical groups of which I have been a part over the years:
Marinette, WI (home town)
Choir (member, soloist)
Band (flute, french horn)
Marching Band (flute, cornet)
Senior Public High School
Concert Choir (member, soloist)
Swing Choir (member, soloist)
Concert Band (flute, piccolo, section leader)
Wind Ensemble (flute, piccolo, section leader)
Pep Band (flute, piccolo, section leader)
Marching Band (flute, piccolo, squad leader)
Occasional choir member, soloist, flute accompanist, youth worship leader
Princeton, NJ (1981-1989)
Princeton Madrigal Society (1981-1985: member, soloist, student conductor)
Princeton Glee Club (1981-1983, 1985?: member, soloist)
Princeton Chamber Chorus (summer tours 1982, 1983: member, soloist)
Princeton Chapel Choir (1983-1984: member, soloist)
Cornerstone (1984-1985: founding member, organizer)
various conducting and repertoire classes (1984-1989)
various Senior Conducting Recital choirs (1987-1989)
The Princeton Singers, at Trinity Episcopal Church (1985-1989: member, soloist)
Princeton Presbyterian Church, adult choir (1984-1986?)
Adult Choir (1986-1989: member, soloist)
Children's Choir (conductor)
Adult Handbell Choir (conductor, ringer)
Youth Handbell Choir (conductor, ringer)
Youth Group Worship Leader (1986-1987)
Vancouver, BC (Canada) (1989-1991)
Regent College Choir (member, soloist)
Point Grey (Inter-Mennonite) Fellowship (member, worship leader)
Boston, MA (1991-1999)
Musica Sacra (1992-1993?: member, soloist)
Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum (Feb 1996 - April 1997: member, soloist)
Harvard University (Chapel) Choir - Memorial Church (Spring 1997: visiting member)
St. James Church (Cambridge)- Adult Choir (1998-1999: member, soloist, cantor)
Williamsport, PA (1999-present)
Trinity Episcopal Church (2004-present: choir member, cantor, soloist, occasional flutist)
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