Summer Music Musings

Music Sunday on May 19 was a highlight of the church year involving a cast of 25 singers, speakers, and instrumentalists: piano, organ, flutes, hammered dulcimer, guitar, keyboard and xylophone. So many talented people making such splendid music in our lovely Sanctuary! My heartfelt thanks to all who participated, including the congregation who came out in full force.

Circle of Music Week at Ferry Beach

Come to Ferry Beach Conference Center August 11-17 for a fabulous week of musical learning and sharing at the beach in beautiful Saco, Maine! This year we welcome as our guest artists Debra Cowan and Atwater-Donnelly, the duo of Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly.  See the attached flyer for more information

May Music Musings

Music Sunday at UU Middleboro is an annual springtime tradition, a chance to develop some musings into a worship service for the congregation. When I shuffle through the 15 annual Music Sunday files in my cabinet, I’m struck by the variety of music and topics we’ve explored. One of the earliest involved a congregational survey of favorite songs. Last year we presented a masterwork with John Rutter’s multi-movement “Requiem.” We’ve focused on Maya Angelou, Paul McCartney, and Paul Basler. We’ve created programs around themes, such as color palettes, inner instruments, and transformation.

April Music Musings

In 2011 our church music community started something called “Caring Choir,” designed to bring the uplifting gift of music to members and friends who are homebound. A Caring Choir is made up of singers from any of our choirs – Chalice, Ensemble, Alumni, Family, and Song Circle. A Caring Choir may range in size from a few singers to a larger group, depending on the individual request and how large a space is available. We bring familiar and comforting music from our two hymnals: Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey. Sometimes we can accommodate additional requests. Christmas Carols can be worked into a lovely program, as well as songs from the folk-music resource Rise Up Singing.

Music Musings in March

On April 6, we have a unique opportunity to hear a world-class jazz concert right in our church! Our former music director, Jeannie Gagné, will be joined by Stan Strickland, Bruce Gertz, and Alberto Netto, all globe-trotting Berklee jazz artists. Anticipating our jazz concert, I’ve been thinking about Leonard Bernstein’s lectures to young people about music. He debunks the idea of “Classical Music” as static, long-haired, boring, or (worst yet) DEAD. He defines Classical Music as composed European music from about 1750 to 1820. Before that, historically, were Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music. After Classical were the Romantic, 20th and 21st century periods.

February Music Musings

February with its winter chill is certainly a time for “musings.” Sometimes I think about the many ways a short musical statement (or song) can be tweaked. In a compositional artform called “Theme and Variations,” the basic theme is laid out followed by a set of variations. Each variation has a change of some kind, such as timing, phrasing, dynamics, tonality, harmonies, inversions…you name it! What began as a short ditty can become a delightful set of variations, all connected to the theme in some way. Sometimes I look at our music program at UU Middleboro as a composition of theme and variations. The basic theme is excellence (NOT perfection!), camaraderie, flexibility, and communication. This is the given. The variations come with the variety of people who participate and in our repertoire.

Autumn Concert a Hit – Video Available

Our November 19th “Autumn Concert in Memory of Avis Clay” concert drew more than 100 to our church for an amazing mix of music: classical, modern, contemporary, folk, traditional, Broadway, along with commentary and an overall sense of joy. Video of the concert is now available from Middleborough Community Cable Access Media (MCCAM).

January Music Musings

At last! We are entering a slower time of the year, a time of moving inside, inside our homes, inside ourselves. Winter in New England has some real advantages. With more time available, I have a chance to look at some new “stuff”—not for performance, just for the quiet growth that comes from a fresh focus. Who knows, it may become something to share later! On January 6, we can enjoy a “Winter Festival of Song and Soup” with a show featuring music and drama in the spirit of the Renaissance, performed by the Falmouth-based Solstice Singers and members of Ensemble Passacaglia. This family-friendly show is followed by hearty soups and desserts. Check out the church website ( for tickets. Don’t miss this!

December Music Musings

UU Middleboro church musicians are still basking in the warm glo of a superb Autumn Concert (in Memory of Avis Clay), performed on November 19. It was a huge push and a huge success. Kudos to all the performers and support people who came together to make it happen! December promises to be its usual lively month, starting with two new offerings. Thursday, December 7, at 7:00 p.m., there will be a special gathering called “Finding Peace at the Holidays.” The music will be instrumental, gentle and meditative, a great way to ease into the busiest month of the year.

November Music Musings

Musicians make a lot of noise! It’s part and parcel of learning a piece to the place where you can share it with others. There’re all those wrong notes, funky rhythms, adrenalin, and repetition-repetition-repetition. I used to tell my piano students that during practicing, they should stop and correct that tricky spot until they can play it FIVE times in a row without an error. The downside is that sometimes you need to play that bar TEN times before getting five good ones. The rules change in performance:  “Do not stop and correct. Carry on. Try to play in the right