Musical Response to Sermon - 4/7

Austin Huntington, cello

Coming into this past Sunday’s service, I had no previous experience with improvisation. While I was slightly nervous at first, my ultimate mindset was to free up my mind and let the music and the moment inspire my playing. This mentality was no more evident than when, after a tranquil and smooth beginning, I accidentally (at the time) added in an F sharp while everybody else was in F major still. This dissonance interrupted the previously calm exchange and while it felt wrong at the time, I decided to go with it. My thinking was to relate it to the Gospel reading, where Judas interrupts a very honorable ritual to raise the question of the necessity of using such extravagant amounts of expensive oil. This causes the ritual to pause, and while it seems like he might have a point, his intentions are not good and Jesus explains the reasoning and symbolism, effectively silencing Judas and his conniving ways. In many ways, these brief moments of dissonance in the improvisation felt like Judas asking such a pointed question, before Roger and Kent seamlessly brought everyone back into the original key and kept going with the improvisation.

Musical Response to Sermon - 3/31

Roger Roe, oboe, Mike Muszynski , bassoon, Kent Cook, piano

Sometimes in group improvisations, we start with a framework. This time Kent told us before the service that he wanted to play in the Dorian mode and would likely use some of  the Wondrous Love hymn tune as a ground. When we heard the story and the sermon of the Prodigal Son, both Mike and I found ourselves wondering what roles we have played or are playing in that story in our lives and today. 

Mike found himself focused on his role as a dad and setting boundaries for his daughter. He tells says that would feel only joy if she was lost and then found, and he wanted to play those emotions in the improv. When I walked away to the back of the sanctuary and played my own unrelated tune, he found himself thinking,“Kent is toiling in the fields, Roger is lost, and I am the dad, looking for ways to relate to Kent and let Roger go off on his own.” 

As it went on, and I went further away, Mike added more intensity and expressivity and started calling out and responding to me. I eventually heard him and stopped to listen. When I did stop what I was doing and pay attention to them, I realized that Mike and Kent were playing very beautifully together. I turned and walked back towards them to join the music they had been making in my absence, and I had to call out, as they were about to come to a stop. Mike made eye contact with me and played a response to my call to encourage me to meet him back down front. As I started walking back, we met on a D together and rested.

Musical Response to Sermon - 3/17

Zach: I wanted to go for more open tones and fewer dark notes, less dissonance, to fit the optimism at the end of the sermon.  The whole day for me was very open and inclusive.  Some of the darker notes were from the comments about troubles of the last week.  The service and the sermon made me want to keep it tonal and beautiful.

Kent: I was sad for David and worried about him.  The sermon was emotional, with the ambulance and Linda’s words about enemies and reconciliation.  I spent most of the improv listening and following.

Roger: I was so worried for David and Jenny, and I also had a strong sense of how much I miss making music with Zach.  At one point, I found myself holding an A with Zach, which was the note that he and I tuned the orchestra to for years, and I had to drop out, since I was about to cry.  I let him and Kent play the rest of the improv without me after that.  I just stood there and felt my sadness and let Zach and Kent’s beautiful playing wash over me.