Month: October 2016

They will come for you

They will come for you

Today, October 31, is Reformation Day, commemorating the 499th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The day is associated with Martin Luther’s Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences which became popularly known as the 95 Theses. Luther sent this document to the Archbishop of Maenz, Albert of Brandenburg,  on October 31, 1517, and a few days later,  posted it on the door of the Church of All Saints in Wittenberg, Germany. This event is considered to be the spark that led to the Protestant Reformation, a major reform movement in the Christian church.

In our church’s worship service yesterday morning, we sang Luther’s great hymn,  Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, usually translated into English as A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. The image above shows the original version of the tune in the handwriting of Luther’s friend, Johann Walter. Luther composed the words and melody sometime between 1527 and 1529 and it has been used in churches around the world since that time, in particular since Frederick Hedge made his English versification in 1853. It was also used by Johann Sebastian Bach in his Cantata for Reformation Day, BWV 80.

When I was a student at Wheaton College, I memorized the four verses of this hymn for extra credit in a class. While I was grateful for the extra credit, I’m very glad I took the time to memorize A Mighty Fortress. I call it to mind every day.

Translations of texts into English that originally appeared in other languages help us to sing songs with understanding. But in the case of A Mighty Fortress, the standard English translation of the fourth verse has always struck me as being overly pleasant; it does not truly reflect the seriousness of Luther’s original text.

Here is what we often find in English hymnals for the fourth version of A Mighty Fortress Is Our God:

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;

The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth.

Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also.

The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still:

His kingdom is forever.

This is all well and good, but the phrase, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,” sounds like we should simply let things go – let go of things, even our own lives, since they are, in the big scheme of things, not as important as knowing that one is a Child of God.

But Luther’s original German text includes something very important. A better, more literal rendering of this verse in English looks something like this:

That word they must let stand, no thanks to their own efforts.

He is with us indeed according to the plan, with his Spirit and gifts.

Though they take from us our body, possessions, honor, child and wife,

Let them have all these things; they gain nothing from them: 

There still remains for us the Kingdom.

Do you see the difference? It’s not a matter of just “letting things go.” No, THEY TAKE FROM US OUR BODY, POSSESSIONS, HONOR, CHILD AND WIFE. They will come for you and all that you hold to be dear. Persecution WILL come. The things that are most valuable and important to us – including our own lives – are not simply things that we will have to let go of. No. They will be taken from us. Yet God, who rules over this fallen, messed up world, reminds us that even when you have lost everything, you still have the most important thing: the Kingdom of God. This is a tremendous comfort for the Christian.

We live in troubling times. Increasingly, in some parts of the world, to speak of the Christian faith leads to persecution, even death. Luther’s great text reminds us of this; it is as fresh today as when it was written centuries ago.

Luther’s first verse, as it usually appears in English, is a good translation that captures the original intent of the text even as it is in rhyming verse, and it is a great reminder for those who know and follow Christ. Amidst the craft and power of the ancient foe, the evil one, Satan himself, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1):

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;

Our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.

For still our ancient foe, doth seek to work us woe – 

His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

Likewise, the second verse – and this is the verse I call to mind every day – tells us who it is that will conquer this evil one:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing,

Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;

Lord Sabaoth his name, from age to age the same;

And he must win the battle.

Today, the 499th anniversary of Reformation Day, reminds us that in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life, God is there, our mighty fortress.

luther_eine_feste_burg_02Martin Luther’s Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, published by Josef Klug, 1533.

Location. Location. Location.

Location. Location. Location.

It has often been said that there are three rules about buying real estate:

  1. Location
  2. Location
  3. Location

OK, it’s an old joke. But it happens to be true.

Recently we’ve been traveling and have visited two places that are in spectacular locations. And they have the hallmarks of important, memorable buildings that stay in our minds in the midst of the chaotic, frenetic pace of life. One is simple and rough hewn. The other is modern and sleek. Both speak to timeless things. Both are reminders  for us to take moments in our busy lives to find places where we can stop, think, reflect and, after renewal and a deep breath, push on.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, shown above. Location. Location. Location. This simple Chapel was built in 1925; it is a survivor made of lodge pole pine. Through decades of ice, wind, sun and snow, through the cycle of the seasons – death and new life – it has stood as a place of worship and contemplation in the midst of the exceptional beauty of the Grand Teton mountain range. The altar frames this spectacular view:

chapel_transfig_altar

I’m sure every visitor to the Chapel of the Transfiguration takes this photograph. And why not. With the Grand Teton centered above the altar cross, our eyes go up. Up. It reminds us of the words of Psalm 121 (KJV):

I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

As soon as you enter the Chapel you are aware of two stained glass windows – one on the left and one on the right – beautiful, artistic reminders of the natural beauty you see ahead through the window behind the altar:

chapel_transfig_winter_summerchapel_transfig_ice_snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chapel of the Transfiguration in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. Stop, think, reflect, renew, push on.

Closer to home is a very different kind of Chapel in a very different kind of location.

holy_cross_02

The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona, shown above. Location. Location. Location. The Chapel was built in 1956, perched high on a promontory of rock. It appears to be emerging out of its surroundings and in fact, until you get right up to it, you’re not even aware that it is there, so well does it integrate with all that is around. Here is a view of the Chapel from the Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte trail, below; the Chapel is in the exact center of the photograph:

holy_cross_04

Can you see it? Just a tiny speck of tan colored rock, but it is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, disguised as part of nature’s landscape. Inside, its altar frames a dramatic scene:

holy_cross_03

Secure on the rocks, the Chapel stands as a sentinel, looking out at the massive red rock formations of Sedona, not far from the Grand Canyon, majestic, solid, immovable. We are reminded of the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 93:1-2, NIV):

 The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.

Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.

holy_cross_01

Stop, think, reflect, renew, push on.

Paul Hindemith had it right with the closing words of his poem, The Posthorn:

Your task it is, amid confusion, rush and noise,

To find the lasting, calm and meaningful and, finding it anew,

To hold and treasure it.

Rethinking Mozart’s Tuba mirum – part 1

Rethinking Mozart’s Tuba mirum – part 1

To readers of The Last Trombone: Since I wrote this article in October 2016, I have continued my research on this subject. This has led to publication of a follow up article, written on April 25, 2017, to the comments that appear below; I urge you to read Rethinking Mozart’s Tuba mirum – part 2 when you finish reading this article.

•   •   •

The trombone solo in the Tuba mirum of Wolfgang Mozart’s Requiem is one of the most important solos for trombone in the orchestral literature. It appears on nearly every tenor trombone audition – whether an audition for college or a professional symphony orchestra. As most trombonists know, Mozart (1756-1791) did not live to finish the Requiem and many people have stepped in to put the piece in a playable form since Mozart’s wife asked Franz Süssmayr to finish the piece shortly after the composer’s death. A look at Mozart’s manuscript shows us that he made very few markings to guide how the solo should be played.

Over the years, a type of settled wisdom came to define how players should approach the solo. Süssmayr added dynamics and many slurs, and most conductors ask players to, after the initial opening seven note “fanfare,” to play the solo in a legato, beautiful style. Audition committees seem to expect this style as well.

But I wonder if it isn’t time to revisit how we play this solo. I think it’s possible that we have been approaching it all wrong.

The “historically informed performance practice” movement (HIP) of recent years has helped us to revise our thinking about this in some important ways. First, many reproductions of the trombone solo of Mozart’s Tuba mirum, including its inclusion in many orchestral excerpt books, have shown the movement’s time signature to be common time, or 4/4. But when we look at Mozart’s manuscript, we see that the composer clearly intended the movement to be in cut time, or 2/2.

Here is a detail of the beginning of the Tuba mirum in Mozart’s manuscript; the cut time marking is unambiguous:

mozart_ms

Here is the beginning of the Tuba mirum as found in Orchestral Excerpts from the Symphonic Repertoire for Trombone and Tuba, ed. Keith Brown, Volume 1, p. 83; the meter is given as common time:

brown

And here is the beginning of the Tuba mirum as found in Moderne Orchesterstudien Für Posaune und Baßtuba, ed. Alfred Stöneberg, Vol. 1, p. 3; the meter is given as common time:

Stoneberg.jpg

So, we have our first question: what is the tempo of a late 18th century Andante in 2/2? In fact, if you look carefully at the first page of Mozart’s manuscript above, he underlines the word Andante in the tempo – he could not be more emphatic that he wanted this tempo. Until recently, most conductors have conducted this movement in 4/4, with a tempo of approximately quarter note = 82. Or slower. Herbert von Karajan’s recording of the Tuba mirum  with the Berlin Philharmonic clocks in at about quarter note = 66 and he has all three trombone players play the solo in unison. Copyright restrictions do now allow me to embed von Karajan’s recording in this article but you can hear it by clicking on this link (the recording will open in YouTube in a new window).

But is that kind of tempo REALLY Andante? A tempo of quarter note = 82 would be a tempo of half note = 41, or Lento, or in von Karajan’s case, quarter note = 66 is the same as half note = 33, or Grave. We first must examine whether the “traditional tempo” is too slow. I think it is. Listen to this performance of the solo by trombonist Susan Addison with John Elliot Gardiner conducting the English Baroque Soloists. This tempo is about half note = 50 (and do not be thrown off by the fact that this performance is in A major rather than B-flat major; the performance is at Baroque pitch, A=415):

Even this tempo seems a little slow for Andante, a tempo that is often defined as “walking tempo.” From a correct understanding of Mozart’s intentions regarding the tempo flow other questions.

Here is a larger point that I think bears some consideration: the text of the Tuba mirum and its implication on the musical character of the movement.

Tuba mirum is part of the Dies irae of the Requiem mass. In the Requiem, Mozart combines five sections of the Dies irae into the movement he titles “Tuba mirum.” These are Tuba mirum (baritone solo with trombone), Mors stupebit (tenor solo), Liber scriptus (tenor solo), Judex ergo (alto solo) and Quid sum miser (soprano solo and vocal solo quartet). For the sake of this discussion, I am limiting myself to talking about the first part, Tuba mirum, with the three lines of text reproduced below. Its text is in Latin, in trochaic meter, and it describes the day of judgment when all mankind is called before the throne of God. This is not a text that is gentle in any way:

Tuba mirum spargens sonum

Per sepulchral regionum,

Coget omnes ante thronum.

A “standard literal” English translation of this text is:

The trumpet, scattering a wondrous sound

through all the sepulchers of the regions,

will summon all before the throne.

A fuller translation that gives the Biblical sense of the text runs something like this:

The trumpet, blowing its amazing sound to all of the corners of the earth,
signals to all of the dead in the world
to rise from their tombs and come before the throne of God for judgment.

Here is how Michelangelo pictured the moment described in the Tuba mirum, in his famous fresco of  The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. Trumpets sounding, the dead being raised before the throne, in fulfillment of these words from John 5:28:

“The hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation.”

last_judgment

Here, below, is a detail of the lower left of Michelangelo’s work, showing the dead rising from their tombs. Certainly this is a moment of exceptional drama:

resurection-of-the-dead

The point I am making is this: does the text of the Tuba mirum support a gentle style of music making, with the soft dynamic and generous legato that has become so commonplace in our performances?

Listen, for instance, to how Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) set the Tuba mirum text in his Requiem. He required four brass bands – one for each corner of the earth – to call the dead from their graves to judgment:

It’s easy to argue that Berlioz was French, a 19th century Romantic-era composer and it is unfair to compare him with Mozart. But can it really be disputed that Berlioz didn’t capture the character of the Tuba mirum with the drama of dozens of brass players being the summons of God to judgment?

If we go to Requiems of contemporaries of Mozart, we find that many treat the Tuba mirum with more drama than we traditionally give to our interpretations of Mozart. Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), Mozart’s contemporary, uses trumpets and three trombones to loudly proclaim the call to judgment, while the chorus alternates between a breathless declaration and a loud summons. In it you can hear a foreshadowing of Berlioz’s brass bands:

In his unfinished Requiem in B-flat major, Johann Michael Haydn (1737-1806) employs three trombones in dramatic fashion at the presentation of the Tuba mirum:

The same can be said for the Requiem of Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842), whose setting of the Dies ire begins with a loud brass fanfare, the crash of a gong, and a brisk, dramatic treatment by chorus and brasses. The audio clip below begins at the Dies irae and the Tuba mirum follows about seconds later, at 9:24:

It should be noted that this issue – the editorial dynamics and phrasings that have been added by editors other than Mozart that cause the Tuba mirum to be performed in a way that is rather disconnected from the character of the text – is not discussed in any of the Mozart literature that I have read. There are many editions of the Requiem and many completions of Mozart’s incomplete score. Most contain extensive front matter and a discussion of editorial decisions. Yet none speak to this issue. Among those I have examined are those by Alfred Schnerich (first publication of Mozart’s manuscript in facsimile, Gesellschaft for Graphische Industrie, Vienna, 1913), Leopold Nowak (Bärenreiter edition of Süssmayr’s completion, 1966), Franz Beyer (Beyer’s instrumentation, Edition Kunzelmann, 1971) and Richard Maunder (Maunder’s instrumentation, Oxford University Press, 1987). Nor is this discussed in The Mozart Compendium (H. C. Robbins Landon, G. Schirmer, 1990), Mozart (Maynard Solomon, HarperCollins, 1995), or Constanze Mozart: After the Requiem (Heinz Gärtner, translated by Reinhard Pauly, Amadeus Press, 1991). Neither it mentioned in Alfred Einstein’s important study, Mozart: His Character, His Word (Oxford University Press, 1945). In short, the Mozart literature is mute on this subject.

There are two recordings of the Requiem that are of particular interest to me and show that some conductors ARE thinking about this.

The recording below, by Christoph Sperling with Das Neue Orchester, contains a complete recording of the Süssmayer edition and also a recording of the Requiem as Mozart left it, without any editorial additions. The instrumentation of Mozart’s manuscript is very thin and the trombone soloist (who is unidentified in the liner notes but the three trombone  players are listed as Robb Tooley, Katherine Couper and Uwe Haase) plays with strength and clean articulation. Note, too, the tempo, which is faster that we are accustomed to hearing:

Another interesting recording for comparison is that by Boston Baroque, conducted by Martin Pearlman, in the completion of Mozart’s manuscript by Robert Levin. The trombone soloist is Cormack Ramsey and the tempo and interpretation seems to better reflect the character of the text. Copyright restrictions do not allow me to embed that recording in this article but you can hear it by clicking this link (YouTube will open in a new window).

As with the presentation of any idea that is outside the established box, people will raise questions. I’m good with that. Let me answer some questions here:

  • Yes: I know that Mozart did write three slurs at the end of the Tuba mirum trombone solo; these are verified to have been Mozart’s own instruction in his own hand (they are the only slurs for trombone that were written by Mozart in the Tuba mirum). But does the inclusion of slurs necessarily mean the phrase should be played softly?
  • Yes: Mozart wrote several dynamic markings in the Tuba mirum but the first one, forte-piano, doesn’t occur until measure 18, where the tenor begins singing Mors stupebit natura. Mozart wrote no dynamics during the entire trombone solo (measures 1-18; we must keep in mind that the “second half” of the trombone solo, that in some editions appears starting at measure 24, is entirely a creation of Süssmayr, not Mozart). As well, keep in mind that for the entire Tuba mirum, the only music that we have in Mozart’s own hand is written for cello/bass, trombone solo and vocal soloists. He wrote no parts for violins or violas or any wind instruments apart from trombone. Mozart left the movement, as he did most of the Requiem, as an uncompleted torso.
  • Yes: I know that the way the Tuba mirum is traditionally played is quite lovely, and it makes for a very nice musical presentation. Mozart had previously used a trombone solo as an obligato to a vocal line to great effect (with a very different kind of text) in his  Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots. My point is that the way we traditionally the Tuba mirum doesn’t seem to fit with the message of the text.

But none of this prevents me from asking: Can we start a conversation about the way in which we are interpreting the Tuba mirum of Mozart’s Requiem? Does our traditional way of playing the Tuba mirum – with its soft dynamic and gentle legato – fit the drama of the text? Have we added too much to the sparse instructions Mozart left in his unfinished manuscript? Knowing how conductors somehow overlooked the correct meter and tempo for this movement for so long, have we overlooked the fundamental character of the movement as expressed by the text? Have we gotten into a habit of how we interpret this without considering other options might open new doors of understanding?

I am posing an idea, a theory; I am not presenting this as a settled thought in need of adoption. Certainly more research and study needs to be done. I am simply posing the question. Let’s keep thinking.

•   •   •

Please note: After reading this article, please read my follow up article, Rethinking Mozart’s Requiem – part 2, published on The Last Trombone on April 25, 2017.

The land of the free. Yes. The free.

The land of the free. Yes. The free.

I’ve recently returned from a week in Baltimore, Maryland, a trip that had many facets and which returned me to the place where my professional orchestral career started. Before joining the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1985, I was bass trombonist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1981-1985. In those four years, I was part of a great low brass section along with Jim Olin, David Fetter, Eric Carlson and David Federley (tuba); the photo below was taken in the fall of 1981.

baltimore_section_1981

Returning to Baltimore brought me down to the city’s Inner Harbor, a superb urban development project that began just before we came to Baltimore more than 35 years ago. It was nice to see the changes to the area over the years, particularly the new stadiums for the Baltimore Orioles and Baltimore Ravens, both very much tied to the fabric of downtown Baltimore. The U.S.S. Constellation, the 1854 “tall ship” that served as part of the US Navy for over 100 years and seen in the background in the photo above is still there.

constellation

I also gave a master class at the Peabody Institute where I was on the faculty during my time in the Baltimore Symphony. It was quite nice to be back in that venerable place, with so much that was familiar but so much that was new. I very much enjoyed working with several talented Peabody students, including Jahi Alexander, shown below, who is a student of the Baltimore Symphony’s current bass trombonist and my former student, Randy Campora.

jahi

We also visited Fort McHenry (photos at the top and bottom of this post), particularly known as the site of a ferocious battle during the War of 1812. I had never been there before but I as very happy to finally get there. Our visit was a very strong moment, even emotional, as we learned the history not only of the battle but of its lasting consequence: the writing, by Francis Scott Key, of the words to our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Our National Anthem is in the news these days, in particular because a small number of athletes have decided not to stand when it is played before the start of a game. They are doing this, they say, to protest the the anthem’s final words, “The land of the free and the home of the brave,” which they feel do not apply to all people in our country.

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about this, although some writers have seen evidence that people  overwhelmingly see the gesture as being, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “dumb and disrespectful.”

Yes, our country has problems. Injustice exists. But I have been to 30 countries in the world on five continents and have seen how governments work. There are many good things about many countries in the world. But my late father had it right when he often said, “The American system of government is the worst in the world. Except for all the others.” The glory of the United States is the freedoms we have. Freedoms like those in no other place in the world. Our National Anthem is a symbol of our hopes and aspirations. In the face of injustice, we turn to that hope and work in meaningful ways to make positive change. Choosing to not stand at the playing of the National Anthem does not protest against injustice; to many, it is a selfish, narcissistic gesture that accomplishes nothing but draw attention to an individual. When we stand for our National Anthem – even while we are fully aware of the imperfections of our country – we honor those who have served our country to ensure our freedoms, we express gratitude for all that is good and right in our land, and we resolve to do better to improve the lot of everyone in our country. Standing while our National Anthem is played or sung is a rare gesture of unity in a country that is deeply divided over many issues.

Yes: athletes and others have the freedom to not stand for the National Anthem. That freedom is enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. And that freedom is celebrated in the words of the National Anthem itself. But those freedoms also include the right of others to call out those who do so as being selfish and “dumb and disrespectful.” See injustice? Work for justice. The battle of Fort McHenry and our National Anthem remind us of this.

O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave,

O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

mchenry_inside

 

Improvisation: A Careful Carelessness

Improvisation: A Careful Carelessness

Last month I had the great joy of traveling to Duke Divinity School in North Carolina to take part in a two day Convocation titled, “Call and Response: Two Days of Theology and the Arts.” I was involved in a program called “A Careful Carelessness: An Evening of Theology and Improvisation.” Organized by Dr. Jeremy Begbie, the event included both classical and jazz musicians in a thought provoking evening that related the idea of improvisation – a skill that is careful but also careless – to both jazz and classical music, as well as our view of God.

ostling_yeo_duke

In Christian circles today, much is often made of so-called “freedom in Christ.” By this, many people conflate salvation and sanctification; they say: “I am God’s child, I am saved, therefore I can do pretty much whatever I want. The Law is not in force with me; I am a child of grace.” But just because an idea is popular doesn’t make it true. In fact, this way of thinking leads to spiritual anarchy and antinomianism, and is the anthesis of the Christian Gospel.

As Jeremy Begbie insightfully said at the Duke Convocation:

“All music making depends on improvisation to some degree. This interweaving of order and openness is built into the way music works. . . . In improvisation we learn that freedom comes from the interplay between openness and constraints. Of course in the modern world, freedom usually means something like the absence of constraint. . . Improvisation makes us rethink all that. It makes us wonder if true freedom comes only from leaning into the constraints. Flannery O’Connor once said, ‘Art transcends its limitations only by staying within them.’  When God gave the law to the Israelites, it wasn’t to cramp their freedom, but to liberate his people to be the people they were meant to to be. Walk outside the laws and you became unfree, slaves again. When Jesus says the “The Son makes you free, you will be free indeed,”  he didn’t mean free from everybody else and free from all limits – but free to love people the way they were meant to be loved.”

Indeed. Think of music. Within rules – chord changes and such – comes tremendous freedom and beauty. Rules don’t mean “no fun” – they mean great fun, great freedom. The Duke event was a reminder of just how hilarious – and I use that word in its meaning, “unbridled joy” – music can be when we work within a series of constraints, whether in jazz or classical or any style.

megumi-doug

In all of this this I was joined with colleagues from symphony orchestras from around the country and some fine jazz musicians as well. I played in a brass quartet with Andrew Balio and Nate Hepler (trumpets) of the Baltimore Symphony, and my good friend Megumi Kanda, principal trombonist of the Milwaukee Symphony. We played a canzona of Giovanni Gabrieli and also took part in large group performances of “Sing, Sing, Sing” and “Sweet Georgia Brown” where we were joined by Anne Martingale Williams, principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Scottish violinist Alan Torrence, and John Brown (bass) and Donovan Cheatham (drums). Jeremy Begbie also contributed his skills as a superb pianist.

I also played an arrangement I made of a Bach two-part invention along with my Boston Symphony friend and colleague, associate principal flutist Elizabeth Ostling (who also played in the large group pieces). A highlight of the evening was Duke’s Dean of Chapel Luke Powery leading a call and response with the audience of the spiritual, “Wade in the Water,” over which I improvised a trombone solo. What a joy it was to work with such capable, flexible, and positive friends and colleagues while at the same time being musically and spiritually challenged myself.

dukegroup

There will be more from me on this theme of order and openness in future posts. For now, you can read more about the Duke Convocation in this article on the Duke Divinity School website, Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts (DITA) Celebrates New School Year with Theology and the Arts.

[Giving credit where credit is deserved: photos in this post were taken by Jessina Leonard and Pilar Timpane.]