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December 31, 2004
Vol. IV, No. 33

"Post-Season Wrap-up"
It's not that I don't like the holidays; I love the holidays. But I do find them to be a major disruption. I live a very full life so to try to squeeze more into it is just begging for trouble. Now, I know that the holidays are a time for slowing down and reflecting on the joys of the season and all that but hey, the work doesn't do itself. Model of efficiency that I am, the week before Christmas was insane! By the end of the season I found myself with a heap of backlogged work and a molehill of resentment.

What a wonderful holiday season it was! No, really. Of course, since then I've been out in the woodshed. I came in to write this Rampage and then I'll be heading back out there again. Boy, four weeks of playing Christmas music did nothing for my technique.

There were some "interesting" moments this year. If I had a bloopers tape I'd run it now. Instead, you'll have to use your imagination for the visuals to these Top 3 Interesting Moments.

3. At Christmas, I usually play from xeroxed pages and I'm extremely meticulous about putting them back in order after playing a piece. So I really have no idea how pages 2 and 3 of an arrangement of The First Noel (in D Major) became switched. Unfortunately I didn't notice until I was playing the piece and I hit page 2, which was actually page 3, and abruptly modulated into Eb Major or a whole page early. So my piece and consequently my prelude ended a whole page early. Time for some quick thinking and some fill-in music!

2. Another sheet music incident: On Wednesday nights, I go right into the postlude out of the final hymn, holding the final chord with one hand while taking the hymnal off the music rack with the other. Well, this time, the third page of my postlude (an arrangement of Joy to the World) decided to follow the hymnal and jumped off the rack, drifting down toward the pedals.

I had a split-second decision to make. One choice was to go right into the postlude and figure out what to do about the ending later. However, I wasn't feeling that brave plus I was concerned that the loose page would somehow block the pedals so I went for my other choice. I finished putting the hymnal down and changed the registration with one hand while grabbing the errant page with the other. It left an awkward gap of silence before the postlude began but overall I was happy with my choice. That is, until I got to the retrieved page three and realized that it was upside down! Who knows what I played until I got it turn around? Split-second decisions will get you every time!

1. I don't know if this is any better or worse than the others but I made it #1 anyway so here it is. I make a habit of adding certain stops by hand. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the glue on a couple of the stop knobs had failed to hold and would come off in my hand or worse, go flying across the organ pit. One such stop was the 16' Trumpet in the pedal, which I needed to add in a build-up during an arrangement of O Come All Ye Faithful. I was so concerned about the knob coming loose that I forgot to pay attention to the notes I was playing. Consequently, I added a big fat juicy Db to the first chord of the verse in Bb Major. The ensuing Bb Minor chord created such an ominous summons to the faithful that I'm surprised it didn't scare them all off.

Why so many silly bloopers? Well, they say listening to classical music makes you smarter. Maybe along with my technique the Christmas music leached all the smarts out of me, too.

To be fair, there were also some good moments. Most of them had to do with sudden inspirations resulting in improved arrangements of some tired favorites. A couple of those made their way into my annual Christmas Eve concert. Speaking of which, I was able to include in the concert the surprises I hinted at in my last Rampage. Lo How a Rose was my flute playing debut and I played O Come O Come Emmanuel on Baritone horn while simultaneously playing organ pedals. The latter started off a bit rough but got better as it wore on.

There are always things that could have gone better and things that always sound worse on tape than they do in the hall at the time. This is especially true of the recording I made, the first ever of the annual event. It wasn't practical to put the mics out in the hall so they ended up in the organ pit with me. Consequently, there's lots of pedal and key noise, no reverb from the hall and the balance between the singing and the organ is off. Also, the flute and baritone suffered from their close proximity to the mics. All in all, though, I'm glad to have it.

Due to file size, I've uploaded a mono version of the complete concert. And if that's still too big, I've broken it down piece by piece. The stereo version of the complete concert is rather large at 38Mb. If anyone is interested, I could upload it in three chunks so let me know. Without further ado, here's the program:

Christmas Eve Program 2004
Christmas Eve 2004 Complete LO Rez (7.7Mb)
{ }

1. O Little Town of Bethlehem (344K) { }
2. Fanfare (352K) { }
3. What Child Is This (1.0Mb) { }
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (656K) { }
5. Gesu Bambino (848K) { }
6. Lo How A Rose (488K) { }
7. Away in a Manger (676K) { }
8. Silent Night (708K) { }
9. O Come, O Come Emmanuel (264K) { }
10. Gloria (824K) { }
11. Hymn Sing (1.8Mb) { }

By the way, for the hymn sing, I wanted to modulate Joy to the World into E Major. I couldn't find one in any of my hymnals so I cooked up a quick one that I'll make available for PDF download:

It's about time for me to head back to the woodshed. I came down from all the Christmas excitement quite literally, with a cold and then the flu. That's history now but needless to say, it didn't help my situation. So here I am backdating a Rampage about Christmas Eve when I should be writing about the Happy New Year. Well, the New Year will just have to wait. Please bear with me while I get caught up a bit. OK, back out to the woodshed then.

Click this link to read comments and offer your own:

Have a great week!

Dan Long

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