Tonight was the Iolani School Class of 2015 Baccalaureate service — my twenty-first* and my last as Chapel Organist — and I couldn’t help but think back to my own Baccalaureate, long ago at the Burbank Starlight Bowl, where I played the organ for the Class of 1968, and how full of promise and hopeful we were as we looked to the future — we had our whole lives in front of us. (Go back and read my post, Sisyphus, about how many umpteen times I played Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Tune and Trumpet Voluntary!) Tonight I think I felt more sadness than joy as I am retiring, and another chapter of my life is ending. (*N.B. Even though I have been at Iolani for twenty years, I was contracted to play a Baccalaureate in John McCreary’s absence in 1994 and before I came on staff. So that’s why this was my twenty-first Baccalaureate.)
At the end of the semester, I am called to play a lot of processional music — as classes ceremoniously march in or out, depending upon the occasion — and I always told people I earned most of my salary in the last couple weeks of the semester. In addition to regular preludes, postludes and hymns, I had to play separate processionals for the seniors to march out and another for the sixth graders to march in to take their places at Moving Up Ceremony. At Honors Day last Thursday, I played Handel’s “Water Music” as the seniors entered the gymnasium. And of course tonight at Baccalaureate, I played grand processional music as the seniors entered St. Alban’s Chapel for their last service, and a grand recessional as they exited.
All these years, I could not have survived without depending upon the music of David N. Johnson (1922-1987). According to his bio on the Augsburg Fortress website: The late David N. Johnson graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and earned his doctorate in music from Syracuse University. He was an accomplished composer, known particularly for his church choral music. He was head of the music department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and head of the organ department at Syracuse University before joining the music department at Arizona State University in 1969. While he was at ASU he taught students how to play the organ and how to write music for choirs. He retired from his jobs at ASU in 1981. Dr. Johnson was an active church musician, organist and director of music at Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix.
Tonight for the processional I played David Johnson’s “Trumpet Tune in C” and his “Trumpet Tune in D” for the recessional, the last of which is the opening and closing theme for the weekly radio show With Heart and Voice with host Peter DuBois on public radio. I learned from Wikipedia that the “Trumpet Tune in D” was also used for the 1971 wedding of Richard Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, who was married in the White House Rose Garden with music provided by a string orchestra. Since this work was originally composed for organ, it was transcribed for string orchestra for the wedding.
One of the cherished traditions of Iolani’s Baccalaureate is the candlelighting ceremony when all the lights are extinguished (except for the lights on the organ!!) and candle light is passed from student to another in the darkened church. During this quiet time, for years I played the hymn “THAXTED,” also known as the theme from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. This year, though, they got Handel’s Water Music, since I wasn’t able to retrieve the music from my organ library. Then in the dark church illuminated only by candlelight, the Alma Mater (tune FINLANDIA) is sung first by the seniors, followed by the whole assembly.
Here I have embedded videos of the two Johnson trumpet voluntaries.