Last Saturday, while we were sitting at breakfast, I got a phone call.
“Kathy, I know this is last-minute, but can you play for me tomorrow?”
It was Grant Mack, organist of St. Theresa’s Co-Cathedral. You may remember that it was over two years ago that we performed the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 in this exquisitely beautiful and acoustically perfect space. You may also recall that LCH’s former intern, Bill Kunisch, is now the rector here, and is called Father William.
And so I said, “Yes, I’ll do it!”
My husband Carl suggested that I go with him to the 5:00 Vigil Mass which he regularly attends, and talk with Bernie Gora, the pianist, about getting the music ahead of time (Yes, one day’s preparation would be better than coming in to sightread everything!) St. Theresa’s holds five identical services every weekend and they all use the same bulletin. As it turns out the mass setting music on Sunday morning was going to be different from the Saturday night service, but the hymns would all be the same. I told Fr. William after the service that I was “casing the joint!”
Going in to substitute at another church is a little bit like cooking in someone else’s kitchen! You have some basic ingredients, but you have to look around in all the cupboards to find out where the pots and pans are located. Every church is just a little bit different, too — of course the organ is different, but every parish service has little idiosyncrasies, too. I was feeling just a little anxious, to say the least. You have to remember that I played at LCH for nearly 35 years and so things were pretty comfortable.
“When the children come up to the altar for the lesson, play ‘I want to walk as a child of the light’ as an instrumental interlude.”
“Play soft chords when the congregation recites the Creed, but wait until they start in on the second paragraph.”
“Wait until Father eats the Host and drinks from the Cup before you start playing the Communion Hymn.”
I was glad that Father William referred me to some YouTube videos of the mass setting, Mass of the Angels by Richard J. Clark, which I listened to on Sunday morning before the service. I was very impressed with this beautiful setting based on simple chant-like melodies which you can hear by clicking here.
As it was the Last Sunday before Lent, I played Dale Wood’s happy and triumphant “Pisgah” and “Antioch” from his settings on American folk hymns for the prelude, and as I played the rousing postlude, “All things bright and beautiful,” we heard the loud drums outside from Lion Dancers, in honor of Chinese New Year.
I went out with a bang!