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!

Jeremiah Clarke, 1674-1707

Jeremiah Clarke, 1674-1707

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.”


About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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2 Responses to Sisyphus

  1. Heidi Bender says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing it. I also enjoyed the videos.

  2. Pingback: Bridging the Centuries | Another Year of Insanity

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