Sunday was our beloved choir director‘s grand finale, his last day before his (we expect) even more grand retirement. The choir loft was packed with present and former singers, all come to celebrate Scott’s gifts and to say goodbye.
Scott’s tenure has been pretty amazing. He combined a crew of professionally trained singers with the usual set of amateur churchgoers to create a highly polished sound and earn national and international recognition. The choir has toured the world, even singing in the Sistine Chapel. All this was going on while he conducted a group of choristers and worked on the school’s music program and established an annual Bach festival.
It will be interesting to see if the new guy can fill those shoes. A nationwide search was launched, and we (the choir) auditioned three finalists. All were very impressive. Of the three that we sang with, I thought either of two would be an admirable replacement…an opinion shared by just about everyone. To my delight, they hired the one I personally happened to favor ( 🙂 ). Now we shall see…
By the strangest of coincidences, the man who got me onto the choir, Fr. Carl Carlozzi, died on the very morning of our last service with Scott.
Carl was rector and headmaster at the time my son was attending the school. We were tangentially connected in some other odd ways — he married, for example, the very lovely ex-wife of one of my ex’s clients. After a notably successful career at All Saints, Carl followed his calling to become a volunteer chaplain for the Phoenix Fire Department.
At any rate, he was still there back when I showed SDXB the door, leaving myself in blessed peace. After awhile, though, enough blessed peace was enough: I began to realize that I needed to get a life…and it needed NOT to be an offshoot of the Great Desert University. Since “Social” is not my middle name, I really had no idea where to look to find a life. So one day I presented myself to Carl and asked, in effect, “How do you go about getting a life?”
Said he: “I know: you can join the choir!”
I thought, “Choir???”
Brooking no dissent, he picked up the phone and called Scott into his office. When presented with me, Scott said, “I’ll take what I can get.”
And that is saying something. Surely even he had no clue how ignorant of music I was (and by and large remain). Deep in the lovely Rub al’Khali, there was no such thing as music instruction. I never took music lessons. Never practiced the piano (because I didn’t even know what the keys were supposed to do). Although I basically knew what a staff and musical notes were for, I couldn’t begin to read music. Once I tried to teach myself to play the guitar, but without others to learn with, that was a forlorn hope.
But even the densest of ignoramuses could not fail to appreciate the breathtaking beauty of the music that Scott provided, week in and week out, for that congregation. Or to appreciate the amazing accomplishment involved in getting us all to sing it and make it sound pretty darned good.
Over time, thanks to Scott’s amazing patience and teaching skill, I managed to learn to follow along. Nowadays I can even sort of figure out what a piece of music might sound like by looking at the score. Placed next to a professional or near-professional singer, I can follow along fairly convincingly…given enough practice.
Did I get a life? Well, that probably was never in the cards, since I don’t make friends easily. But I did meet a lot of people whose company is pleasant, and choir does provide a twice-weekly junket out in public.
Nothing lasts forever. All things pass.
I’m sad to see two icons of a lively and creative era move on. But I look forward to the next stage: let us hope it will be just as productive…or maybe even more so.