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Monday, May 4, 2015

Dream date

Most of you who read my blog probably access it from Facebook, so you will know the main content of today's post. I'm writing it anyway for archival reasons, because it was such a wonderful day on Saturday, and the day ended with the best surprise of all: the performance of my song "Canticle of the Turning" on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion show, live on NPR.

Saturday was sweet enough already. Since the young woman who teaches at the school was handling the music for the first communion masses at the parish, I subbed out the evening mass as well and actually took the entire day off from work. Since it virtually never happens that Terry and I have the same day off of work, we decided to take full advantage of it and get out of the house. By some random act of kindness by the hostile universe that will require a supernova destroying a solar system in another quadrant of another galaxy, it was also a perfect spring day. So after a delicious breakfast of mushroom and Gruyere omelet with fruit, we headed to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Mid-afternoon, after a stop at Starbucks for some hydration and protein, we made our way over to the Northbrook mall and the movies. We went to see Woman in Gold, a true story about a woman's struggle to retrieve a Klimt portrait of her aunt, stolen from her by the Nazis from the Austrian government and the national museum in Vienna. A really great performance by both Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, and we recommend it if you like this kind of movie.

It was after this, around 6:30, we made our way to a restaurant we'd never tried before, Bobby's in Deerfield. We had just sat down and ordered some drinks when my Facebook feed lit up in a way that was extraordinary for a Saturday night. One colleague from central Missouri sent me a private message that said, "Are you listening to Prairie Home Companion?" The messages were pouring in that there was a vocal group performing my song "Canticle of the Turning" live on national radio!

Garrison and PHC were broadcasting from Goshen, Indiana, not far from South Bend, and from Goshen College, a Mennonite institution. Their Chamber Choir were the featured performers on the program, and they did their own music as well as contributing to Keillor's signature spoofs (an "autobiographical" rendition called "I Wish You'd Keep from Singing," and a re-working of Shenandoah.) Terry and I have seen PHC live a couple of times, once at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend, another time at Ravinia in the summer, and it's always such a great experience to be part of the entertainment that Keillor & co. provide. Such an unexpected honor to have song of mine performed there! And this one, this Irish folk song with words by a Catholic from (at the time) Arizona, performed by a concert choir from a Mennonite college! An adventure in musical cross-pollination and eclecticism. I still can't believe it. Now if someone would just let GK know what an opportunity he is missing until he has Terry sing on his show. 😊

This is the entire show. If you click on the sixth entry in the list of songs, "Teach me thy truths..." etc, you can listen to all 11 minutes, or scrub ahead to about 7:45 and hear their energetic cover of "Canticle of the Turning," known here by its hymnal title (it appears in the Mennonite hymnal!) "My Soul Cries Out," with fiddle, whistle, and bodhran. You can also try this link, which should take you to that 11-minute clip. Yesterday's South Bend Tribune, by the way, reported that "The Goshen College Chamber Choir was a bouncy group of effervescent young folks, led by equally peppy director Scott Hochstetler. Numerous choir members sang solos, made-up songs and advertisements throughout the show. Their version of hymn “My Soul Cries Out” was powerful and a standout performance."

As for Saturdays, they don't get much better than that one. I'm bracing for the karmic backlash from having such a great day, but until that happens, I'll just be grateful the gift and thank God that, more than a quarter century after it was first published, this piece of music can speak to the hearts of young people on paths I never would have imagined.

There's something mystagogical about that, one Vine, all of us, wherever we are and however we worship, the branches. I'll think about that some more. Have a great day.

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