Today is September 11th. And for the years 1977 through 2000, it was just an ordinary day in the year except that it was also the day of Carl Crosier’s birthday! However in 1992, it was also the day that Hurricane Iniki struck Hawaii.
Then in the year 2001, our world changed forever when two planes struck the Twin Towers in New York City, a third plane crashed into the Pentagon, and a fourth plane came down in a field in Pennsylvania.
The year after, in 2002, it seemed like everyone was singing Requiems on September 11th, and Carl said, “I want to change my birthday!” He almost got his wish, as that year his passport came due, and it came back with the date September 18th! Of course, we had to send it back to be corrected.
But now it is the year 2017, and Carl would have been 72 today. God! He always said he’d never make it to his 70th birthday, and sadly, he was right. I myself can’t imagine what he would be like at 72 years old, probably a little grumpy, although he mellowed out in his last few years.
Mark Boyle, whom I wrote about on his new appointment as the Director of the Pittsburgh Compline Choir, wrote this today on his Facebook wall:
Today, while a somber day in many respects, is a joyful day for me. It’s Carl Crosier’s birthday. As many of you know, Carl directed the Compline Choir at Lutheran Church of Honolulu (as one of his many duties as Canon and Music Director), where I was introduced to Compline. He passed away in 2014, leaving a legacy of musical beauty. With his wife, Katherine Crosier, he planned monumental works at that church which positively impacted so many lives. It was Carl who introduced me to the Bach St. Matthew Passion—even asking me to sing one of the false witnesses.
During the hymn last night (For the Splendor of Creation – text by former Pittsburgh Compline Choir member Carl P.Daw, Jr. and sung to Thaxted), when the text “for the teachers who inspire us to summon forth our best” rolled around, in that moment, sitting in the choir stalls of the magnificent Heinz Memorial Chapel – singing the Divine Office of Compline, I couldn’t help but think of Carl. And yes, I cried. I had to stop singing, actually.
I have had many amazing applied music teachers in my life to whom I will be always grateful – Diane Polzen, Robert Coture, Gail Longo Tanguay, Carolyn Whinnem, Hank Podolak, Bob Zysk, Cy Stretansky, Kathy Hartzell, Jeffrey Ballard, Mei Zhong, Vicki Gorman, Douglas Amman, Bob Kvam, Jeffrey Carter, Jeff Pappas, and the man who led me through my DMA and cemented the conductor I am today, Patrick Gardner. But when it comes to what it means to be a church musician, my most important teacher was Carl Crosier. I learned from his example on a weekly basis.
Today, I celebrate that Providence, the universe, or simple, good fortune ushered Jane and me through the doors at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu so we could experience a master at his craft. Today, on his birthday, I celebrate Carl Crosier and his musically spiritual influence that is still felt by so many.
Happy Birthday, Carl.
And thank you for inspiring me, summoning forth my best.