Musical Musings: April 25 – May 1, 2021

Virtual Concert this Sunday at 4:00 p.m.!

Good Company: A Vocal Ensemble is celebrating the past, present, and future of the group with a special online event from 4:00-5:00 PM (EST) this Sunday, April 25th. Good Company is directed by UUCC’s Music Director Mike Carney, and includes many UUCC members and friends, such as Barbara Bradley, Amy Collins, Leon Michaud, Anne and Steve Sanford, Pam Schenk, and Holly Walker. This online concert will feature music from individual members of the group as well as several virtual choir performances from the full ensemble, including Morten Lauridsen’s “Sure on This Shining Night” with current and alumni members, and the world premiere of Joan Szymko’s “Reaching Back from Here”, a new work commissioned for this occasion and dedicated to Good Company’s founding director, Karen Weaver. The (online) doors will open at 3:45 and I hope you can be there! Here’s the link. Please share the Zoom link with your friends and family, as up to 500 participants will be allowed into the event. See you there!

Music Notes: Sunday, April 25, 2021

Music 1:  I Seek the Spirit of a Child – English folk melody/Seaburg

#338 in Singing the Living Tradition, “I Seek the Spirit of a Child” is a setting of The Sussex Carol, an English folk song most often associated with the Christmas song “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing”. The words were written by Universalist/UU Minister Carl Seaburg (1922-1998), who is also responsible for several of the other songs in our hymnbook, including “Be That Guide” (#124), “God Who Fills the Universe” (#37), and “Find a Stillness” (#352). Mike Carney and the UUCC Chancel Choir will lead “I Seek the Spirit of a Child” in this week’s service.

Music 2:  Shalom/Peace – Traditional songs

“Shalom/Peace” is a partner song combining two traditional rounds, both of which convey a message of peace: the Hebrew folk song “Shalom Chaverim” (#400 in Singing the Living Tradition) and “Peace Round”, which is often attributed to Appalachian folk singer and songwriter Jean Ritchie (1922-2015). In this week’s service, these songs will be sung by UUCC’s YoUUth Choir.

Music 3/Offertory: Blue Skies – Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was one of the most important and influential composers in American history. Born in Russia, Berlin’s family emigrated to the United States when he was five years old and settled in New York City. During his long career, Berlin wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, as well as the scores to 20 original Broadway shows and 15 Hollywood films. His contributions to the Great American Songbook are significant, including timeless songs such as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, “Cheek to Cheek”, “Easter Parade”, “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “White Christmas”, and “God Bless America”. “Blue Skies” was one of Berlin’s earlier hits, written in 1926 and inspired by Berlin’s feelings about family life after the birth of his first daughter. The song was debuted by Belle Baker in a mostly forgotten Ziegfeld show called Betsy, and was subsequently recorded by many performers, including Al Jolson (in The Jazz Singer), Count Basie, and Willie Nelson, who took Berlin’s song to #1 on the country music charts in 1978. Father and son duo Steve Sanford (on clarinet) and Geoff Sanford (on oboe) are the performers you’ll be hearing on “Blue Skies” this Sunday.

Music 4: Everything Possible – Small

Singer-songwriter, lawyer, activist, and UU minister Fred Small (b. 1952) was born in Plainfield, New Jersey and currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He started out as a lawyer working for the Conservation Law Foundation, but soon answered another calling and became a full-time folk singer and songwriter. Some of Small’s best-known songs are “Heart of the Appaloosa”, “Cranes Over Hiroshima”, and “Everything Possible”, which was first released in 1985 on his album No Limit. “Everything Possible” was also used for the finale of the AIDS benefit musical Heart Strings in 1992 and is included in our Singing the Journey hymnbook (#1019). This Sunday, “Everything Possible” will be led by UUCC’s Chancel Choir with soloists Alicia Burkle and Molly Watkins.   

Postlude: We Are… – Barnwell

#1051 in Singing the Journey, “We Are…” was composed by Ysaye Barnwell (b. 1946) for Sweet Honey in the Rock. “We Are…” was originally the last song in a suite that began with the lyric, “Lawd, it’s midnight. A dark and fear filled midnight. Lawd, it’s a midnight without stars.” Dr. Barnwell wanted to create a complete circle of experience, and so she wrote “for each child that’s born, a morning star rises…” This phrase is meant to establish hope, and it defines the uniqueness of each one of us. No matter what our race, culture or ethnicity, each one of us has been called into being and are the sum total of all who came before. In the composer’s words, “Each and every one of us stands atop a lineage that has had at its core, mothers and fathers and teachers and dreamers and shamans and healers and builders and warriors and thinkers and, and, and…so in spite of our uniqueness, we come from and share every experience that human kind has ever had. In this way, we are one. (from This Sunday’s video performance of “We Are” is led the UUCC Chancel Choir with Mike Carney on piano.

-Mike Carney, UUCC Music Director