I want to hear the people sing!

A week or so ago, I recorded a PBS special on the 25th anniversary of Les Miserables. This weekend, I got around to watching it. Les Miserables is my favorite musical. I’ve seen it three times and I’d gladly see it many more times. It’s such a powerful story of redemption and self-sacrifice. My favorite characters are, of course, Jean Valjean and Eponine. Both of these characters sing great songs. I’m not sure which of the two stories is more moving.

Anyway, this special was presented concert style. Not my favorite. But that’s ok, the music was still quite powerful. Afterwards, I checked and sure enough, there is a US tour underway! It will be in Los Angeles in June/July, but it won’t be coming to San Francisco. It looks like I’m going to have to go down to So Cal to see it. Done! Maybe twice.

In other news, I’ll be booking my hotel accommodations for Portland on Wednesday. Yay!!

And finally, for supper this afternoon, I grilled steak and made rice and steamed French cut green beans. Tasty!

It’s just a good thing this island has electricity and the equipment to play a cd!

Today, by special request, I will try to answer the following:
If stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one music album with you, which would it be? What is it about this music that never gets old for you?

My initial thought is that I would bring the album, Some Great Reward by Depeche Mode. For many years, DM was my favorite band and this was the first album of theirs that I’d listened to. Not every song on the album is a favorite. Particularly, I’m not much a fan of Somebody or Blasphemous Rumours. But these songs are part of the album and so I accept their inclusion. I guess this album speaks to my youth; of that time when the world of music was really starting to open up to me. Of all the various ‘sounds’ that Depeche Mode has evolved through over the years, this represents my favorite period.

Other albums that are top-tier for me include, The Two Ring Circus by Erasure, Greatest by Duran Duran, Table Songs by David Haas, The Joshua Tree by U2, ABBA Gold by ABBA, The Commitments OST, Les Miserables – The Complete Symphonic Recording, Farewell to Ireland by The Dalraida Brothers, Sucessos de Verão by Roberto Leal, and Stunt and/or Everything For Everyone by Barenaked Ladies.

Google is your friend.


I participated in my first raid ever tonight. It didn’t go well. Heck, we didn’t make it past the first room/boss. However, there was a feeling on the part of many that it was a successful night in the sense that many newbies to the raid now know the mechanics for this fight. Perhaps we’ll try again tomorrow.

My friend, Betty started The Challenge last year. I joined in then and we are doing it again this year. This go around, we’re taking it up a notch. Bam! So the first of several scheduled events will be the Morning Matinee, wherein the most dedicated (crazy) among us will meet at 5 AM on Tuesday the 25th to watch the Oscar nominees announced live. The awesome part of this event is that Betty, with help from her husband, has secured the dining room of the Holiday Inn Express for the viewing. It will be up on a big screen and breakfast will be free! w00t! So I plan to go to bed VERY early on Monday so that I can make it up well before the crack of dawn. Perhaps some of you will come join us for the viewing…..

I have tendered my resignation from the percussion group I was in. It had started to become clear that it was going to be much too serious for me. I just want to have some fun. I wish them the best and I anticipate that I’ll still sit in and play with them sometimes. I hope so.

The funeral for my uncle will be on Friday, the 28th. I already had planned to be off work that day so hopefully I’ll be able to make the drive down to Irvine. But I’ll have to leave at O’dark in the morning. The drive should take about 6 hours and the funeral starts at 9:15. So I need to leave by 3 AM. Ugh. I’ll plan to stay overnight at my cousin’s then come home on Saturday in time to play with my gaming group at 2 PM. Busy? Yeah.

Cultural Collision

I mentioned that I like music, I pretend to play some instruments.

Here is my latest acquisition, a cuica.
Burning Sky 1012.31 - 029

This is also my facebook profile pic, so sorry to those of you who’ve already seen it way too much.

A cuica is a friction drum that is played by rubbing a stick or dowel attached to the drum head. It is supposed to sound like a lioness mating call. You can simulate the sound yourself by rapidly moving a straw in and out of the lid of a soda cup. You know what I mean?

Anyway, it’s used in samba music. Well, typically used in samba music. I hope to use it in tribal polyrhythms that I’ll play for belly dancers.

Music at St. Stanislaus revisited

A few weeks ago, I told the powers that be at St. Stanislaus that I wanted to stop doing the music at the Saturday evening Mass. I said that I’d continue through the end of the year but as of the latter part of December, someone else needed to step up. I suggested that perhaps I could alternate weeks with someone. So Cathy spoke to Kyle and Kyle agreed to alternate weeks with me. But, rather than wait for the end of the year, he was ready to start this next weekend. So, effective immediately, I only do the music every other week.

The Bad: This will mean slightly less income for the next couple of months. Sharing a Mass means that there is much greater chance for inconsistency to develop in the repertoire and so forth.

The Good: Some of my Saturdays will no longer be interrupted midway through the day. Maybe this will lead to greater cooperation amongst the musicians at the various Masses. I won’t burn out so soon.

Now if only Mike comes back to resume playing at the 8:30 on Sunday mornings, I can go down to one Mass per weekend again.

Weekend recap

So I had a really good weekend. On Friday night, I went out with about 20 coworkers to celebrate Lori’s birthday. People started to gather at Lori’s house at 7:00 and we had some drinks, appetizers, makeup checks, etc. At 8:00, the limo arrived and we took some final group photos and left for dinner. We arrived at Fuzio’s and met more of our party that were there waiting for us. Dinner was good and we made sure that everyone who walked by our group knew that we’d arrived in a limo.

After dinner (and more drinks) we piled back into our sweet, sweet ride and cruised around town for a bit. We hit several clubs that night and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday, I overslept and missed a meeting of the Parish Coordinators for the Catholic Legislative Network from our diocese. Oh well. I am happy to report that I was productive that morning, nonetheless. I straightened up my place, putting away boxes, thoroughly vacuuming the entire house, and putting a slip cover back on the couch. I even did some dishes. Mary came over in the afternoon to watch a couple episodes of Survivor (so now we’re only 1 behind!) and I showed her Pushing Daisies, which she liked.

I played for Mass, as usual and afterwards, went out to P. Wexford’s to enjoy the Irish Sessuin that occurs on the first Saturday of each month. My friend, Tawny and her sister met me there and we had a fun time talking and sharing stories.

Sunday, I woke up late and had to rush to get to church for the 8:30 Mass. I was on time but my voice was not ready for the day. I played/sang for 2 Masses but I had the 11:30 off because the Philipino group plays on the first Sunday of every month. I stopped at the taco trucks to get a burrito on the way home and bought lunch for a homeless guy, Mark. For the rest of the day, I played LOTRO with Danny, Lance, and Suzanne. Finally, in the evening I watched a little TV and stayed up too late playing Alpha Centauri on the computer.

Good times.

Letter to Fr. Arouje

Fr. Arouje,

I wanted to express some of my ideas for music ministry here at St. Stanislaus. I have been involved with music ministry for over 20 years, serving at a number of parishes throughout the diocese, including 5 years as Music Director at St. Anthony’s in Hughson.

Ideally, I would like to see the following:

• One person overseeing the music for all Masses and celebrations of Sacraments (including weekends, weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmation, etc.).

• A commitment to a common repertoire for the entire parish. I do not think it is a healthy thing that the various Masses can be so distinct and even different. We are one parish and people should be able to participate in the singing no matter which Mass they attend on any given week. There is some room for options but 85% of the music we sing at the parish should be from a common repertoire.

• We should be selecting music that reflects the seasonal nature of the Church calendar.

• In selecting music, we must adhere to the principles the Church gives us. Music must pass the Musical Judgment, the Liturgical Judgment, and the Pastoral Judgment. One or even two of the three of these is not sufficient. It must pass all three. And appropriate music from all times in the Church should be used. The best of what was composed hundreds of years ago, to what’s being written now, and everything in between, so far as it passes the three judgments.

• Music that is selected should be done so with the intention that there will be congregational singing. Occasional choir anthems or songs that are to be listened to but not sung by the congregation may at times be ok, but they are not the norm.

• Recruiting of musicians should be not for any one group, but for the parish.

• (I could go on, but these are enough.)

If for whatever reason we cannot, at this time, find an appropriate person to be the Music Director, I think that the current set of musicians should work as a committee to select music and plan for the seasons. We need to start planning for the time when we will have fewer Masses each weekend which in turn will mean, perhaps, fewer musicians will be needed. As we anticipate people from the six English Masses we have now being mixed together in as few as three or four English Masses after the new church is built, it is important that we be able to ‘hit the ground running’ once we make the move to the new building.

I am willing and eager to serve God, the Church, the ministry of music, and the people of God as we move forward over the next several months and years and I look forward to working with whomever is hired.


Seán Fornelli

Director of Music – Who will it be?

St. Stanislaus Parish is looking to hire a Music Director. I would be interested in the job myself except they want someone who will be full time and also direct the band at the youth Mass. Neither of those things suits me so the job is for someone else. I am curious about who we will get. Will it be a traditionalist who thinks that nothing suitable has been written since the death of Palestrina? Or perhaps a modernist who believes that all the music for Mass should be as current as the songs on the radio? More likely than either of these, the person will fall somewhere in between. But where?

I have a friend that would make an excellent candidate except for the fact that he is living and pursing a lifestyle that is totally incompatible with serving in a leadership capacity in the Church. There are some in the parish that would overlook my friend’s public and well-known indiscretions because he is talented. This guy is my friend but if he gets the job, I will have to stop doing music and may have to leave the parish. I will not help him to mock what the Church believes, professes, and teaches.

What I want is a musician who believes, as I do, that good liturgical music from all eras should be represented. From compositions by Bach, to hymns of the 1800s, to the music that was used in the 50s, to Glory and Praise selections, the music of Haugen, Haas, Farrell, Hurd, on through the music that is being written today. The Church gives us three judgments with regard to the music that is selected:

  1. It must be good music. We musicians will disagree when it comes to this but a director is, by the nature of his position, in charge.
  2. It must be liturgical. This is the biggest problem I have with so much of the music that is done at LIFE TEEN Masses. Also why I won’t do Marian hymns on most Sundays of the year.
  3. It must be pastoral. In other words, is it right for these people at this time? This third point seems to be what youth Mass types hang their hats on. But we cannot ignore any of the three judgments. If a song only meets two of them, it should not be used.

Well, I look forward to working with whoever is selected. Or at least making the attempt.

Music at St. Stanislaus

I’ve mentioned before that I am a church musician. Every weekend, I am responsible for providing the music at two of the six English Masses at St. Stanislaus Parish in Modesto. I play guitar and sing on Saturday evenings at 5:30 PM and Sunday mornings at 11:30 AM. Music leaders at the other Masses are: Cathy at 7:00 AM, Mike at 8:30 AM, Kyle with the choir at 10:00 AM, and Jami and the band at the 5:30 PM Life Teen Mass.

Each of the five of us plans our own selections for music with little or no coordination between the Masses. This is not the way I would like things to be. There are two Masses every weekend that have the same music selections. I’ll let you reread the first paragraph to figure out why. There is no Music Director at the parish to provide the umbrella of direction for us. I’m told that the pastor, Fr. Arouje, has announced that he intends to hire a Music Director, so we’ll see how that goes.

Well, I just heard last night that Mike needs to take an indefinite leave of absence from leading the music at the 8:30 AM Mass. There are some people who play with Mike every week; Jodi plays piano and Joe plays guitar. But Mike’s absence leaves them with no singer. So I have proposed that Cathy, Jodi, and I get together to cooperatively plan the song selections for the four Masses we cover, and I will join the 8:30 AM group to sing (and maybe play guitar as well). At the same time, I have asked Kyle to arrange some viola parts for me so that I can join the other string players at the 10:00 AM Mass. I haven’t touched my viola in months so this will be good for me as well.

So the question is: How soon will I be exhausted with this schedule?

Stay tuned.

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