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J. Daniel Ashton

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Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, —Ecclesiastes 9:10a NIV
The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
"See that justice is done,
let mercy be your first concern,
and humbly obey your God." —Micah 6:8, CEV
With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.
Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow. —Proverbs 3:5,6 CEV

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Name: Daniel Ashton
Location: Germantown, Maryland, United States

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The End of the End

We survived!

Since I last wrote, five more performances have taken place, and nearly two days of recovery.

Friday night the Rockville UMC chancel choir performed the Schütz St. John's Passion, and I sang the words of the evangelist. We performed from the church balcony, which is a very pleasing place to sing chamber works. We sang a cappella and I used an E5 handbell to set pitches at the beginning of each narrative, and at appropriate chords in the middle of some choruses. It was an extremely rewarding experience, and exhausting. This was followed up with a moderately brief rehearsal of Sunday morning's music.

Sabbath morning found about two-thirds of the combined choirs for the Messiah performances gathering to sing at the Triadelphia SDA worship service. We sang three well-known responses during the service, and used the following Messiah choruses:
  • Prelude - Behold the Lamb of God
  • Offertory - Since By Man Came Death
  • Anthem - Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs/And With His Stripes We Are Healed/All We Like Sheep Have Gone Astray
  • Postlude - Worthy Is The Lamb That Was Slain/Blessing and Honor, Glory and Power Be Unto Him/Amen
A particular highlight of the morning was the thrill we shared as we rehearsed a cappella in the parking lot. People suddenly realized that we have actually learned this music well enough to hold down our own parts. I think a few angels were helping us, too!

Sabbath evening at 6:55 we began the first Messiah performance with a near disaster: I failed to bring in the cellos in the second part of the overture. And I did it again at He Gave His Back. My other significant blunder was looking at the organ instead of the tenors at the beginning of Let Us Break Their Bonds Asunder. But those three, while each nearly heart-stopping, were exceptional events. The remainder of the music was very solid, if sometimes faster than expected. In most cases the choir stood up or sat down during the end of the previous number, allowing the music to flow expediently from one selection to the next. As a result, I found with surprise that we were beginning the final chorus (Worthy Is the Lamb) at 8:27, for a duration not too deviant from the recordings.

Sunday morning at 8 the Maryland Chamber Orchestra Brass and three guest musicians met at Rockville UMC to prepare for Easter Sunday services, and the choir came in a few minutes later. We played several hymns for prelude and processional, three hymns during the service plus the Craig Courtney setting of Christ The Lord Is Risen Today, the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah (using the Proust/Schirmer brass parts) and two more hymns for postlude. My lip was shot by the end of the first service, and I barely survived the second service. I'm grateful that I don't seem to have any long-term lip damage, although my tone at rehearsal last night was not as good as I remember it being before the weekend. I also played violin as the choir sang an SATB setting of the famous Mozart soprano solo Alleluia.

Sunday afternoon we drove to Triadelphia, where we packed the van (the rented Nissan Quest that is standing in while our Music Van is being repaired) with everything we had left there after the first performance: Rockville UMC's harpsichord, our six music stands, eight typical music stands belonging to Triadelphia, our string bass, stool and stand, my violin (OK, that had gone with me in the morning) and all our music.

Sunday evening we repeated the Messiah performance, this time at Trinity Lutheran. The three egregious errors of the first evening were corrected, and the tempos were much more consistently controlled and stately (as some singers had requested). There were two minor misstarts, but I felt that the entire performance was a significant improvement over our first attempt.

We have a few pictures, which I hope to post later this evening.

After all the congratulations and chatting I found that Vicki had overseen the job of packing the van nearly to completion, and we headed home, stopping at Rockville UMC to return their harpsichord.

Monday I took a vacation day, and we slept in until nearly ten o'clock. We ate lunch at a favorite restaurant in Bethesda, and then spent a few leisurely hours visiting Chris' Critters, a pet bird store in College Park, and driving to Sterling, Virginia, where we wanted to visit Featherheads. Unfortunately, they were closed, but we were able to gaze through their windows. I will write later this evening about the most impressive bird I saw there.

We stopped at a most impressive Wegmans to buy a local map and drinks, and then drove back home by way of White's Ferry. Driving is not exactly a resting activity, but the scenery near the river was wonderfully refreshing.

Today I have put in a day of job seeking within IBM, particularly involving an interview for a team working on a FEMA contract. The technology and facilities and people all seem very nice, although the drive from home to Alexandria does not appeal to me. I would have to look into public transportation.

I still feel the exhaustion of the weekend, and my voice still has that raspy sound it gets when I've worked all night. But I'm beginning to have hope that I'll regain my internal energy well and return to a "normal" life within the next few days. And I'm looking forward to a pseudo-vacation as we ride Amtrak to William and Beth's PBA event in Berrien Springs next weekend.

I'm going to post this without the usual triple-checking grammar and spelling. After supper and writing other posts I may come back, clean it up and remove this paragraph. And maybe add some pictures.


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