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Trumpet singing

I managed to change my work schedule so I could attend tonight’s singing from vol. 2 no. 3 of The Trumpet, and I was glad I did: this was a particularly good issue with lots of good music. Fifteen of us gathered in Carolyn’s living room in San Francisco, with three each of trebles, altos, and basses, and the rest in the tenor section; we had some very good singers in the class, so all the tunes got a good reading.

Since I’m a big fan of the New England School, of course the highlight of the singing was the anthem “The Radiant Band of Music” by Stephen Jenks. Jenks had left the treble part unfinished at his death, and in 2001 Nikos Pappas completed the tune. The added treble part was very sensitively done, very “Jenksian” if you will. I love singing Jenks: he can be quirky and odd at times, but his tunes are satisfying to sing. Some of his later tunes seem a little too much influenced by Lowell Mason and the Better Music Boys; and on the last page of this five-page anthem, Jenks uses conventional chord progressions that are definitely too reminiscent of Lowell Mason. But in the four pages before that, there was enough New England School quirkiness to satisfy me, including: odd time signature changes (e.g., mm. 18-21); descending unisons / parallel octaves that break apart (mm. 22-25); antiphonal singing over drones (top system, p. 94); etc. Great fun to sing!

Among the fuguing tunes, I particularly enjoyed Contrition by Rebecca Wright; when you’re sight-singing, it’s hard to listen to the other parts, but the bass part sounded just right to my ears. I also enjoyed singing the plain tune Bremen by Wade Kotter; I especially like the dotted quarter-eighth note slur in m. 10, which felt just exactly right. And Hurricane Creek by D. W. Steel was a blast to sing — my only complaint is that it needs another verse. I also think it needs to be sung with an unwritten repeat going back to m. 12; you don’t want the tune to end, and I want the leader to have the option of taking the class back to sing the ending one more time.

Will Fitzgerald, one of the editors of The Trumpet, was at this singing. At the end of the singing, I told him that I thought this was perhaps the best issue yet. Full disclosure: one of my tunes is in this issue, but since I’m always unhappy with my own tunes, its inclusion would tend to make me like this issue less. Thus it’s possible that this issue of The Trumpet is better than I think it is.

A big thanks to the editors and production team who put The Trumpet together!