Monday, September 12, 2011

A good rehearsal

Jeremy doesn’t recognize me at first in my street clothes, old Seattle Rainiers shirt and ball cap.  Need him to open up the front doors. We go down to the Beckstein. We want to get Not by might...set before anyone else arrives. We go over it and over it as he begins to feel it. 
Caleb walks in and comes down to the piano. Jeremy asks him to just listen until he understands what we’re up to. Then he begins adding his high baritone over top of my voice. We’re getting there. Finally Andre walks in, wearing his fedora. He sits down and begins to listen. Now we’re working on a call and response, Caleb high, Andre low.
Andre has a skeptical look on his face. I know what you’re trying to do, but it just ain’t makin it. Just ain’t there. But just tell me what you want, I’ll be quiet and do it, he says. 
So what’s wrong? asks Jeremy.
It’s about structure, says Andre. 
OK, I think we’re almost there, we’ve got solo voice, twice through with call and response, piano improv then repeat and out...and I’ve got another idea...
Andre continues to look skeptical. But then he says, OK, let’s work on that ending...and he begins to work out how it should resolve.
And we all do it again. It’s going to work.  Then we go to the 23rd Psalm. Work through the repeated refrain...the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...and then Andre begins to improvise the text over and above the chanted refrain..... He maketh me to lie down in green  pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters..... Caleb looks up at him intently. OK, we’ve got that one too. 
I’d originally wanted to recrerate all our music from that first service after 9-11. But then I remembered, each musician had chosen their own. That was what was important. So I invite Andre and Caleb to choose what they feel moved to sing. Andre is thinking I come to the garden..., Caleb’s not sure.
Jeremy has to take off. Andre and I continue to talk. He’s remembering how Bill Schimmel created these pieces with us, his combination of creative collaboration and precise, crafted structure, so carefully done as to be almost invisible. He did that not only with individual pieces of music but with the whole service, constructing what he called the liturgical architecture. That’s one rare gift, says Andre. I feel privileged to having been able to experience that, I say.
Andre says something to Caleb, wanting to draw him into the conversation. He’s lost in his Ipod. How old are you young man? Andre asks. I’m twenty, Caleb replies.  Ah, that explains it, says Andre.
I ask Caleb to lock up the heavy front doors. It’s been a good rehearsal. It’s time to go.

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