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April 11, 2015

Faith Journey - Music Is My Life #7

Music has given me some of the most inspirational moments of my life. It has always been a part of who I am. Through singing sacred literature, I have taken some of the greatest passages of the Bible into my soul. I'm sure I learned more texts from singing motets and requiems than I ever did in Sunday School.

I began playing the piano as a child. It was my idea, and no one ever had to ask me to practice. I continued until I was about 19 when I got more interested in choral music. I was blessed to study with two of the most talented choral conductors at the college level.

I loved choir in junior high but quit in high school because I couldn't abide the obnoxious music teacher. Instead I played the piano for a group called the "High five." When I got to Pasadena Junior College, Bob Peters, one of the group members who was on campus, came and found me. He literally dragged me into choir and wouldn't take no for an answer. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. The conductor, Dave Thorsen, was amazing. I changed my major to music.

I began singing in Dave's church choir on Sundays and got to know his wife, Katy. They took me along with them to San Diego in June. Dave was hired to do the finances for the summer program for music teachers. The lead faculty was an internationally famous choral conductor, Robert Shaw, and his entourage from New York. That was a lifetime experience. We sang several major works that summer with two choirs - a group of teachers during the day and a community choir that joined the teachers at night.

While in San Diego, I heard a boy ask Robert Shaw what college offered a good choral program. Shaw told him, "Definitely, Occidental College. Howard Swan is the best!" That was a no brainer for me. Oxy was about 5 miles from my home. Many of us went from singing with Dave straight to singing for Dr. Swan. And the next two years were magical as I honed my conducting skills and we continued to sing music that fed our spirits.

One exceptional concert stands out. We sang a two-choir Bach work for the national music teachers' organization. After our first two bars, the music just soared through the meeting hall turning it into a cathedral. People were mesmerized. It was an experience that stopped time. When the final chords began to subside, we all felt that we had experienced something mystical. The people in the audience sat stunned and in complete silent. For years after that experience, I would meet someone who was there. They still talked about that amazing time they were touched by God.

And, perhaps they were.

Posted by Marilyn at April 11, 2015 10:01 AM


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