This past weekend I played the Baccalaureate service at Iolani School, as I have done for the last 20 years. And every time I do, I can’t help but think back to my own high school baccalaureate which I played forty-six years ago. I’m sure that no one except me remembers it! Because, you see, for me it was a nightmare!
I had chosen to play Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Tune,” for the processional and his “Trumpet Voluntary” for the recessional. No problem there—these pieces are used a lot for weddings and other grand occasions and I had practiced them well.
The problem is that each of the pieces only lasts three minutes or so. With over six hundred students in my graduating class, I had only brought the “Trumpet Tune” to get everyone in and the “Trumpet Voluntary” for everyone to march out. Which meant that I played each of the pieces over, and over, and over, and over . . . I think I lost count of the repetitions after about thirty or so, and I started flubbing up. A missed note here, and a missed note there. STOP THE WORLD! I WANT TO GET OFF!
I felt like I was running an uphill battle! Do you remember the story of Sisyphus? In case you’ve forgotten Greek mythology (and I dare say that most of us have!), Sisyphus was punished for his deceitfulness, and required to push a large boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down. Repeat, and never stop.
Say, I just ran across a blog post which railed against using Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary (“The Prince of Denmark’s March”) for weddings, “Jeremiah Clarke: Why You Shouldn’t Play ‘Trumpet Voluntary’ at Your Wedding.” Seems like it’s bad luck — that was the piece that was played when Prince Charles married Diana Spencer. And look what happened to them! they got divorced and she was killed in a car crash.
Forty-six years later, I know better, and don’t play the “Trumpet Voluntary” for Baccalaureate because even with Iolani’s 200+ students in the typical graduating class, it’s still too short of a piece. Instead I bring several pieces of music in related keys to play for long processions.
Here’s some videos of the two Jeremiah Clarke trumpet voluntaries. The first is a version of the piece as played by Gregory Pierson.
And here is the Trumpet Voluntary, also known as “The Prince of Denmark’s March.”