Summer is supposed to be a little more relaxed. Back in the day when I relied quite a bit on freelance income from my musical pursuits, it was. And with all that extra time to do things, I didn’t have the disposable income to do them!
I’m not doing as much freelance these days, but I find I’m actually busier. This past weekend, I played at two different churches, neither one where I normally serve. On Saturday I played keyboard for St. Bridget’s Church, an Episcopal start-up in Rio Vista (roughly halfway between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento). It was a small but valiant congregation (less than 20 in attendance). They hold one weekend service a month, in between having weekday services, small groups, social and outreach activities. A fun group to visit.
I also played at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, where I learned to play organ and played my first services as a young musician. It was satisfying for different reasons than Rio Vista. St. Paul’s is quite established, although they, too, are trying to grow (a congregation of over 200). I played a Harrison & Harrison tracker in the chapel (it replaced the reed organ I played as a teenager), and a good-sized two manual Schlicker in the main church.
Whether new or established, both churches are dealing with issues of identity, building on Episcopal tradition while looking towards the future. Meanwhile, at John Knox Presbyterian in Dublin CA (where I serve as Director of Music), the children and adults who participated in last week’s Vacation Bible School led the service.
JKPC, roughly the same size as St. Paul’s, is also dealing with the same issues of identity and growth. Where St. Paul’s has a strong traditional service, JKPC blends contemporary and traditional elements, both in service structure and in its music: Praise Band and Chancel Choir usually share the chancel, with children’s groups and adult handbells regularly enriching the mix.
I got onto this because my quiet summer hasn’t been quiet, but rather filled with variety and offer opportunities for growth. In my previous post, I mentioned Amy Beach’s Mass in E-flat, which we perform in less than a month. That has offered the San Francisco Lyric Chorus some of the same opportunities for reflection on identity and growth as the churches I mentioned above. And then our daughter Delara and her husband are moving from London to L.A.; and our son Jeremy and his spouse are moving from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania.
So maybe there’s a time for growth.
That is definitely music to my ears…