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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

People who follow this blog are probably a little frustrated, because nothing has been posted here for a very long time.

That’s generally how my life goes, isn’t it?  When things get busy and exciting, I have no time to post stuff; when I do have the time, it’s because nothing much is happening.  The period from September to mid-November this year has been the former: that is, “busy and exciting.”  But it’s quieter now, at least for the moment, so I’ll post this brief update, and if I ever get to expand on some of my adventures over the last several weeks, I’ll let you know on a page like this.

So, here, very briefly, is what happened since September 21, when Heather and I returned to Winnipeg from our cottage in Québec.  Note that there are many links in the list below; please let me know if you click on one of them and find it to be broken.

  • After an absence of three months, I needed to catch up with a number of people, so there were sessions with different individuals in my favourite coffee shop, plus a couple of lunchtime get-togethers.
  • Meanwhile I had begun intensive daily practices for a big November 6 concert that I would be putting on with my daughter, Ariel.
  • In other concerts where I have performed on clarinet, 1 my friend Russ Greene was the “producer;” he did the publicity, arranged the venue, and was the emcee.  In addition to all that, he was the accompanist.  For this concert, however, I would be the “producer.”  I had to find a highly-skilled accompanist for some of the works that Ariel would sing, locate a venue with a suitable grand piano, and do the advertising.  Not to mention getting ready to play some very difficult material myself!  Carrying out these tasks certainly caused me to appreciate at a deep level what Russ had done in those other concerts!
  • On October 9, Chris, my firstborn, had his fiftieth birthday.  This milestone was possibly even more significant to me than it was to him, for it is hard to believe that I am the father of someone that old!!!  “Heck,” I joked to my friends, “he’s older than me now, because I’m only forty!”  So... as the great day approached, Heather said, “You’d better go out there and celebrate his birthday with him.”  The Rev’d Canon Christopher Harwood-Jones lives in British Columbia, so when she said, “you’d better go out there,” it meant buying an airline ticket and flying.  Which I did.  The trip was a delightful experience and a great success.  Naturally I enjoyed being with family, but a highlight was also sitting on Sunday in the congregation of All Saints’ church, Vernon, B.C., with my son presiding over the service... and leading the praise band!
  • Once back in Winnipeg, I resumed daily clarinet practice, plus I printed and circulated some posters for the November 6 concert, and created a FaceBook page for the project.  It’s still there, and, even if you don’t have a FaceBook account, you can see it here.
  • Less than two weeks after I got home from British Columbia, our daughter Ariel arrived from London, Ontario.  She and I were about to have an adventure for which we had been planning for several years.  We were going to Churchill, Manitoba, the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.”  But first we met with Daniel Clark, the accompanist whom I had engaged for the big concert, and played through the music that we would be performing.
  • On October 25, off we went to Churchill.  We travelled by train, as part of an organized tour.  Upon arriving in Churchill, we went to see the people who had taken me on a dog sled ride when I was there in 2011, and had a great afternoon at the dog compound.  The next day we went with our tour out to the tundra.  Thirty people fit comfortably into an enormous all-terrain vehicle, called a “Tundra Buggy,” that goes out to where polar bears live.  We saw at least five bears, including one who came right up to our vehicle and gave it a sniff.  I got some good video footage.  The next day, after exploring Churchill on our own, Ariel and I returned to Winnipeg in the tour’s charter flight.
  • The concert came a week later.  Leading up to it, Ariel, Daniel and I met and rehearsed intensively every day.  The concert itself was well attended (over 100 people) and reactions seemed extremely positive.  I had a professional videographer record the whole thing, and I’m now in the process of mailing the finished DVD to Ariel and to Alan Heard, one of the composers whose work Ariel performed.  I’ve also arranged to have the concert put online, and you can access it from the links below.
  • Immediately following the concert I needed to prepare two major addresses: one, a Remembrance Day speech to a branch of the Army Navy Airforce Veterans association; and a sermon for my parish’s “Patronal Festival.”  I found both speeches difficult to prepare, but in the end, by the Grace of God, I seemed to find [mostly] the right words and the right degree of solemnity, for which I am grateful.
  • With last week’s ISIS assaults on Baghdad, Beirut, and Paris, social media erupted – sometimes with messages of great faith and goodness, other times, not so much.  I felt the need to place my own thoughts into the mix, which then caught me up in posting and replying and commenting over the past couple of days.

And that brings things pretty much up to date.

Pray for all victims of violence; and all refugees; and pray for an open heart among the people who live safe and comfortable lands, that they may lovingly receive those who flee death and destruction.

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Art Songs and Sounds of the 20th Century
    ˜ a father and daughter in recital ˜

(links to the November 6, 2015 concert videos
      by McNeill Media Videography)

Three songs by Arnold Cooke for soprano and clarinet
Francis Poulenc’s sonata for clarinet; seven songs for soprano
Songs for soprano by Richard Strauss
Five songs for soprano by Alan Heard

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1  The most recent of my concerts was one with my daughter, Rachael, in February, 2015.  In June, 2012 there was a concert with Russ Greene in honour of the Queen’s diamond Jubilee.  Two years earlier, Russ and I played together at St. Luke’s, although I didn’t post an account of it in this blog.  The very first concert I played after fifty years of not performing in public was in November, 2008.
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