Music Notes


A note from Steve…

There are so many people to thank at First Parish, and I’m afraid that if I begin a list, I will accidentally omit people. But as the year wraps up, I have to acknowledge again the monumental efforts of the Choirs, rehearsing and recording for our services. I look forward to the time when ALL choir members can join their voices again! And Bells will ring again, of that you can be sure! 

Thank you to the Music Committee. Thank you to all the amazing people I get to work with. Thank you everyone who has participated in the services in any way. Thank you to everyone who has joined church on Sundays from home and kept the heart of this church alive. Thank you to all the great minds at First Parish that coalesce to fix problems. Thank you to our technology wizards, you know who you are. Thank you to everyone who has taught me something this year. Thank you everyone who has done any of those millions of things that have kept us together as a community. And I would be remiss if I did not recognize the work of Kevin Snow. He helped with every zoom rehearsal… every single one. His dedication made my job so much easier as I could focus more on music and less on technological issues. There are too many people to thank, so I’ll stop there…

Anyway, we shouldn’t be shocked that it’s already June. Even as we regroup and lives begin to “normalize”, time-perception still seems to be altered. And I’ll be honest… I like it. For some of us, prepandemic life had forced us into routines filled with too many comfortable wastes-of-time, i.e. commutes, mismanaged down time, etc. Routine, even when wasteful, breeds comfort; and comfort is kryptonite for creativity. We all have a new, probably more creative relationship with time now. I can’t wait to see the results as we begin more direct collaborations, expressing our new selves. We are all bringing new angles of perception and experience that none of us could have imagined before. It is fascinating. We humbly renew our relationships with those for whom we cared so much before the pandemic. And, we also get the added enjoyment of catching up with everyone’s changes. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe human behavior, especially our own, under these bizarre circumstances. It will be interesting to realign our social protocols, especially as they relate to time.

The other day, one of my sons was trying to convince me that the best time to eat cake, is RIGHT NOW. His logic was flawless, but it seemed like an opportunity for me to expound upon the virtues of patience and delaying gratification. I made the case that, if we waited until later to eat the cake, we would experience that moment as ‘now’, while it occurs. Everything we have ever done, or will ever do, was/will be experienced by us in what we would insist is called the ‘now’. My son’s eyes got wide. He was right. ‘Now’ is the best time to eat chocolate cake. But which now? This ‘now’, or ‘future now’? Luckily, we don’t have to be too concerned with ‘past now’. Recognizing that ‘future him’ would also like to eat cake in that inevitable ‘future now’ made him feel like a time traveler a little bit. After several moments of silence, as I stood in wonder at his brain, my son said the most brilliantly philosophical thing I’ve ever heard…” We can always bake another cake in a future now” .

I look forward to that inevitable ‘future now’ when we can share our energy together in person. (And cake… let’s share chocolate cake too.)

Thank you all so much,
Your Music Director, Steve
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It seems that for so many of us, the darkness is quickly lifting and we can see brighter days ahead. And for so many others, this does not feel like the case at all. I think we will not understand how this pandemic has impacted our lives until we can view it in our 20/20 hindsight. But, in the meantime, it is fascinating to observe the ways it has changed our personalities. I, for instance, have noticed my musical needs changing. Where I once would gravitate to the most edifying works of the great masters, I now long for much simpler music. Give me three chords and a tune... and a groove. Where I once had delusions of someday composing serious music which could last in the repertory for centuries, I now relish the idea of simply comforting living people. I would also like to make people dance; that would be fun. We need music to make people laugh a little, too. I don’t want to write music that makes people sit and contemplate mortality...I don’t know why I ever wanted to do that. Create simple joy, that’s the thing to do now.

We are all changing. I’m sure we have all experienced a little extra egocentricity and certainly egocentrism. (I had to look those up). Perhaps some little indulgences such as feeling apathetic, or even the occasional bout of melancholia, have entered our standard repertoire of acceptable emotions. Maybe, even as we are excited at the prospects of at least nominally improved social life soon, we feel some anxiety about seeing people again. Empathy certainly feels different, from afar. Maybe we will all need to relearn etiquette and patience. Relationships have changed. Priorities have changed. It’s going to be interesting to observe our next great adaptation to whatever the immediate future looks like.

First Parish has been a rock throughout this. I feel even closer to our First Parish family now than I did before the pandemic. Church has become even more important. I have let some old friends go, but church family is always on the mind. As we forge our path forward, I feel so encouraged to be part of this family.

Thank you,

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