Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering those who have died in the armed services. But it’s also used by families to remember loved ones — as I write this, my husband Carl Crosier is in the Northwest visiting family graves, and taking a day off from his executor responsibilities for the estate of Peter Hallock. On this holiday I couldn’t help contrasting two memorial services I’ve attended in the last week, both of them musicians.
I counted eleven (11) posts in which I wrote about the funeral and passing of our long-time friend and business partner, Peter R. Hallock. But it may interest many that Peter did not want a burial service. Years ago, his friend and colleague, gambist Eva Heinitz of the University of Washington, expressed similiar wishes — to not have a funeral or memorial service. Instead, Peter put together a Celebration Concert at which students and colleagues performed, including Carl Crosier.
I think Peter was thinking of something similar for himself, but both Carl and Jason Anderson, Peter’s hand-picked successor as director of the Compline Choir, agreed that, “Peter, this is one wish we’re just not going to follow!” As Jason wrote in the initial draft of the program: This is a celebration of the life of Peter Hallock, but not the ‘Tribute Concert’—that comes later. Peter did not desire a burial service, but this liturgy is offered as a consolation for those who mourn. The music for the burial rite is drawn from Peter’s more accessible works, using accompanying instruments like organ, harp, cello—or unaccompanied.
If you would like to see a PDF of the complete program, you can click here. And as I wrote in the post “A numinous sendoff”, the music was all-Hallock and caused Carl Crosier to have Hallock ear worms for three days! He couldn’t shut the music off!
Yesterday I went to a Celebration of Life for percussionist Steve Dinion (“A gentle soul, gone too soon) at the Studio 909 of the Musicians Union. When I first picked up the program, I thought to myself, “Wow, we’re going to be here awhile!” and in fact it was over three hours! You can view the program by clicking here, and as you can tell, there were lots of speeches and lots of music, including a marimba solo, piano music, a violin solo, several trios (voice, clarinet and piano; oboe, clarinet and viola), even jazz (trombone and trumpet). One thing I did not know before yesterday was that Steve took organ lessons at a young age, in anticipation of attending music school and needing a keyboard instrument. Another story that I enjoyed hearing was that when Steve organized a picket line strike of hotel workers, it turned into a percussion masterclass, as he taught them how to beat their noisemakers in unison, finding the sweet spot in pots and pans!
Two musical numbers stood out for me: Nancy Shoop-Wu’s sweet and poignant performance of Claude Debussy’s “Beau soir,” and a marimba ensemble of Steve’s former students at Niu Valley Middle School and Kaiser High School. The kids played a moving transcription of Morten Lauridsen’s “O magnum mysterium” on marimba. I am very familiar with the choral work but this was the first time I heard it transcribed for marimba. (P.S. Did you know that Morten Lauridsen was one of my theory instructors at USC? I strongly urge you to check out his website for listening examples which put you “into another time and space.”)
I found a performance of this work played by the DePaul University Percussion Ensemble, directed by Michael Kozakis: