All-day singings & conventions

All-Cal, day two

My second day watching the livestream of the All-California Sacred Harp Convention. I managed to watch about half an hour before I had to deal with some work commitments — then I watched another half hour — then, to be honest, I fell asleep for two hours. I didn’t mean to fall asleep, but I’m still pretty tired from COVID. And then I had to go outdoors to move my car, because it’s snowing here and I had to get the car off the street and into my parking spot. This post is turning into my excuses for why I didn’t watch the livestream, but that’s just the way my day went.

I got the car parked in time to catch about the last 45 minutes of the convention. There was some fabulous singing and excellent leading in that last 45 minutes. I particularly enjoyed whoever it was that led 45b Villulia in memory of David Fetcho. It was the high point of the livestream for me. Of course, just at the emotional peak of the tune, the Zoom feed got choppy and I missed some of the best bits. A livestream can never be as good as an in-person singing.

Screen grab of the livestream showing two people standing in the middle of about one hundred people leading a tune.
Co-chairs Mark and Leigh opening day two of the convention.

I did not sing along to the livestream. I’m just getting over laryngitis (a nasty little side effect of my does of COVID), and my voice is still too fragile. So I spent my time looking at the video to see who I could recognize. Today the camera was aimed so that it included all four sections equally (thank you, Paul) and I saw quite a few people I knew. During the breaks a few people waved at us online viewers as they walked by, and one person even stuck their tongue out at us, which was hilarious.

This will probably be as close as I get to a Sacred Harp singing for several months. So I’m glad I could listen in.

All-day singings & conventions

All-Cal livestream

I finished work this afternoon just in time to watch the last two hours of the livestream of the All California Sacred Harp Convention livestream.

The organizers told us: “The All-Cal will be live streamed on Zoom through a 24 bit stereo audio interface, using two large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic’s in the NOS configuration.”

This led me to expect good sound, and I got it. When I listened through my Sony MDR-7506 dynamic stereo headphones, the clarity was astonishing. Excellent stereo separation, solid bass response, pleasing midrange and treble. With this kind of audio quality and a singing of the calibre of the All-Cal, this livestream was definitely worth listening to.

Sadly, I had chores to do, and could not stay tethered to the headphones for two hours. I plugged in a single small external speaker, which sounded just fine.

I hope to listen to more of the livestream tomorrow. Tomorrow is my last day of isolation for COVID. I feel pretty good now, and I’m bored out of my mind from being trapped at home. The livestream will be a welcome diversion.

Screen grab of a Zoom videoconference call, showing somewhat fuzzy images of Sacred harp singers sitting in a hollow square.
Screen grab from today’s livestream. Can’t see any of the basses, but I can recognize one or two altos, some of the trebles, and a couple of tenors.
All-day singings & conventions New compositions

Market Street

In going through some old files, I stumbled across this audio recording from the 2012 All California Sacred Harp Convention. After the Saturday session, there was a special singing of new tunes. One of those new tunes we sang was one I had written, a plain tune called “Market Street.” Here’s that recording from a decade ago:

The words are from the poem “Let the Light Enter: The Dying Words of Goethe,” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

“Light! more light! the shadows deepen,
And my life is ebbing low,
Throw the windows widely open:
Light! more light! before I go.

“Softly let the balmy sunshine
Play around my dying bed,
E’er the dimly lighted valley
I with lonely feet must tread.

“Light! more light! for Death is weaving
Shadows ‘round my waning sight,
And I fain would gaze upon him
Through a stream of earthly light.”

Not for greater gifts of genius;
Not for thoughts more grandly bright,
All the dying poet whispers
Is a prayer for light, more light.

Gracious Saviour, when life’s day-dreams
Melt and vanish from the sight,
May our dim and longing vision
Then be blessed with light, more light.

All-day singings & conventions

Norumbega Harmony Half Day singing

Here’s my photo of Glen (497) leading 178 at today’s half day singing in Newton, Mass., from the Denson book and the Norumbega Harmony:

It was a small but excellent singing. Distanced, masked, open windows. Yes, masks are annoying, but I felt very safe at this singing — given my health concerns, feeling safe is good. I’m grateful to the organizers for all the COVID precautions.

I don’t think I’ve ever sung as much Billings in a single singing. That’s one of the joys of singing from the Norumebega Harmony for me — I love all the 18th century tunes.

All-day singings & conventions

Video of Maine All Day Singing

And here’s a just-posted video of last month’s Maine All Day Singing. I’m just off screen to the far left, in the back row of the basses.

Click on the image above to view the video on Youtube.
All-day singings & conventions

Video of Maine Cooper book singing

Here’s a screen grab from a video — just posted — of last week’s Maine Cooper book singing. (I’m sitting in the back corner, as far from the videographer as you can get.) This is Jesse leading 98:

Click on the image above to view this video on Youtube.
All-day singings & conventions

Maine Cooper Book singing

Here’s a photo from today’s evening Cooper Book singing in Maine:

It was a little dusty in the pulling shed, but the sound was remarkably good, even with the very high ceiling. Plus it was a lot of fun to sing Sacred Harp in person.

All-day singings & conventions

Palo Alto special half day singing

Below are the minutes for the special half day singing in Palo Alto. This was a very enjoyable singing, with some strong singers.

All-day singings & conventions

Golden Gate All Day

It was very good to sing in person at the Golden Gate All Day singing, after two years of lockdown. Here’s Susan leading:

After the singing, several people were kind enough to stick around and sing “Berkeley,” a tune I wrote in memory of David Fetcho. The class sounded great singing the tune. The tune itself wasn’t up to the high level of David’s own compositions, but I think it was at least reasonably competent, and would not have embarrassed David. I only wish I could have heard his lovely tenor voice singing it.

All-day singings & conventions

Marian Bush Half Day

We decided to hold just the Marian Bush half day singing this year. We did not hold the Palo Alto All Day. Minutes are below. The church’s rules for singing require outdoors and socially distanced (3 feet). I finally decided to wear a mask most of the time. I work with kids, and there’s no reason to increase my chances of exposure even more.

I liked the fact that Paul Kostka made this singing accessible to people who could only join us online. I don’t think this will be a regular feature of Sacred Harp singings, but it does make it more accessible. It also reminded me of the last time Marian Bush sang with us in Palo Alto. She could no longer get out of the house, so we called her up and sang to her over a cell phone. “Did you hear me singing?” she said when we got done. Of course we had to reply that no, we were singing too loud — as usual with Sacred Harp.

I miss hearing Marian’s alto voice at singings, never loud, but always perfectly in tune and in perfect rhythm. I’m glad we got to do this singing in her memory.