Good Day Beautiful People!

I hope this post finds you doing well! The summer season is not quite here but in just a couple of weeks, it will be!

If you would like to go straight to “Alma Phantasia” or “Embrace The Storm”, click on the links. If not, read on!

My second year at Mercersburg Academy wrapped up this past Wednesday, June 6th right at 12:05pm. You learn so much each year through teaching but also through relationships, however they unfold.

The Chorale and Jazz Band (the two groups that I direct) made enormous progress this year.

Chorale: In addition to our usual concerts we perform throughout the year, we were able to work out two more performances! In February, we performed a full concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hagerstown, Maryland to members of the church and of that surrounding community. Then at the end of March, we performed a joint concert with James Buchanan’s auditioned choir, Messa Voce, in the Irvine Memorial Chapel. These particular concerts are so important for my students because it gets them connected with the community around the academy and also they have the opportunity to hear other singers. Messa Voce’s director, Eric Poe, and I want our joint concert to be an annual event. Hopefully we can make that happen!

Jazz Band: The Jazz Band had the opportunity to travel down to Washington D.C. to perform at the school’s largest annual off-campus event, Mercersburg Onward. I was able to work out for us to go down to D.C. a day early so we could see Roy Ayers perform at Blues Alley jazz club. It was an amazing experience for the kids! Shoot for me too! Haha!

I could tell story after story but instead, here are some pictures that show a few highlights of the year!

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In terms of music composition, I was able to find a little time throughout my busy schedule to write for myself. And when I say ‘for myself’, I mean personal projects (see the ‘Currents Projects’ widget on the right side of my home page). Each year, I arrange things for the performance groups all the time. That’s just one of the ‘extra’ duties you have to do as a music educator.

Embrace The Storm: Those of you who read my blurb about “Via Lucis” remember that the words to that song were from the beautiful mind of Kate Frimet, a now GRADUATE of Mercersburg Academy. She’s heading off to Stanford next year! I miss her very much already. Anyway, back in the winter term, The Writing Center sponsored an “Inspired by Writing” Contest where students and faculty could submit entries in response to “Tornado Skies”, an imaginative poem by Miss Frimet. Long story short, I didn’t win but I submitted a piece of music in reflection. Thanks to Miss Frimet’s inspiration, “Embrace The Storm” came into existence!

Alma Phantasia: Listening to and watching Jim Brinson perform on the organ really inspired me to compose something for him to play. One particular day last year, probably after a school meeting, the student body and faculty stood up and sang the alma mater, just like we do anytime we have a gathering in the Chapel. Later that evening, I started to play around with that melody in my head and on the piano. Over the summer, I decided to attempt to write a fugue. Fast forward to the faculty recital in January, Jim premiered the fugue for those in attendance. Later on in the year, Jim and I were talking in our office and he mentioned he wanted to play the fugue for the recessional of the Baccalaureate service but it was really short. To make a long story short, I said I’ll compose a fantasy to add on to it! So a couple of weeks later, the full “Alma Phantasia” was born!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Embrace The Storm and Alma Phantasia!

May God Bless You and Keep You!